by Abraham Gutierrez
With their backs against the wall and their head on the proverbial “hot seat,” the New York Jets defeated the Baltimore Ravens by a final score of 24-16, putting an end to an ugly 4-game skid. The win improved Gang Green’s record to 2-5 on the year, but the eight-point victory was anything but unadventurous, as fans at MetLife Stadium were on pins and needles in the early going.
Things got off to yet another shaky start for the Jets, as they trailed 10-0 in the opening quarter, and the entire team was to blame for the early deficit. Not only was the offense stagnant and ineffective in protecting Geno Smith, but special-teams play was sloppy and the defense couldn’t stop Joe Flacco and the Ravens’ aerial attack.
Luckily, New York was able to get it together following a change at the quarterback position, and somehow was efficient enough to get momentum on its side heading into halftime. After the break, the defense came out energized and took care of business going forward. Thus, Todd Bowles lives to fight another day, and more importantly, coach another game in the National Football League.
The Jets offense collected 16 first downs and 345 total yards, out of which, 189 came through the air and 156 on the ground. However, their effort wasn’t good enough for an A-letter grade, as they allowed 5 sacks for a total of 26 negative yards and an injured signal-caller.
After finally being promoted to the starting spot, Smith’s time as first-string quarterback would come to a screeching halt in the early going due to a knee injury. However, despite his premature exit, the former West Virginia standout should be credited for going 4-for-8 for 95 yards, highlighted by a 69-yard touchdown pass to Quincy Enunwa. That long completion not only got the Jets on the board, but also got the offense going trailing 0-10 in the opening stanza. Following Smith’s departure, Ryan Fitzpatrick regained his starting spot and made the best of his second opportunity.
With solid execution and sound decision-making, the 12th year man out of Harvard completed 64 percent (9-for-14) of his passes for 120 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions for a quarterback rating of 115.2.
“The biggest thing in this game, in order to last, is to have belief in yourself,” Fitzpatrick said after the contest. “When the owner stops believing in you, and the GM stops believing in you, and the coaches stop believing in you, sometimes all you have is yourself.”
Other offensive standouts included Running back Matt Forte (30 rushes for 100 yards and a rushing TD, as well as 4 catches for 54 yards and a receiving touchdown), and wide receivers Quincy Enunwa (2 catches for 73 yards and a score), Robby Anderson (3 grabs for 41 yards) and Brandon Marshall (3 catches for 39 yards).
After surrendering 16 points through two quarters, Gang Green’s resistance went to work. In true Jets fashion, the defense would pitch a shutout in the third and fourth quarters, keeping Flacco and the Ravens offense off the scoreboard. Another area where this unit deserves a nod is helping win the turnover battle. With Smith and Fitzpatrick taking care of the rock, the Jets defense forced two interceptions and a fumble.
When it was all said and done, New York’s defense gave up 11 first downs and 244 total yards, highlighted by a stingy 6 rushing yards by the Ravens offense (238 passing yards). They also did a great job on third down situations, holding Baltimore to 3-for-14 as well as 0-1 on fourth downs.
Special Teams: C+
It clearly wasn’t a great day for this Jets’ unit, and that was evident in the first quarter as the very first score of the game came on special teams. Pinned against his own end zone, punter Lachlan Edwards fumbled the ball — in what appeared to be a good snap — and the Ravens recovered on the paint to jump out to a 7-0 lead.
Edwards would bounce back with 6 punts for an average of 40 yards per boot, including three kicks inside the Ravens’ 20-yard line and a long punt of 52 yards. Nevertheless, Jets kicker Nick Folk would also not finished the game unscathed, missing a field goal (2-for-3), but at least he went 3-for-3 on point afters.
Seemingly coaching for their jobs, Bowles and his staff deserve a ton of credit for this week’s big win, particularly after such a rough start. Losing Smith in the early going couldn’t have been easy for Bowles, and sending Fitzpatrick in as a replacement was nothing short of a gamble.
Luckily, “Fitz” would go in and save the day for Gang Green, effectively executing the offense and eliminating silly mistakes. The Jets’ defensive coaches also deserve a ton of credit, as they play an integral part in this victory. After allowing the Ravens to score 16 points, the defense buckled down and helped the Jets hold serve in a must-win situation.
Up Next: Cleveland Browns (Week 8) in Cleveland
Next up for Bowles and the New York Jets is a matchup with the winless (0-7) Cleveland Browns. This game is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. ET from FirstEnergy Stadium and will be broadcast live on CBS Sports.
The Browns are coming off a 17-31 defeat at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals in a battle of Ohio. There’s no question that this will be a great opportunity for Bowles and the Jets to string together their first win streak of the season. However, underestimating the felines could prove to be a costly mistake.