Game Recap - Ravens at Jets

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Turning the ball over three times to any team is not a recipe for a win in the NFL, but that's just what the Ravens did Monday night against the New York Jets.

 Of course, getting called for an astounding 14 penalties for 125 yards won't do you any favors, as well.

 The Jets racked up that many flags in their opening of New Meadowlands Stadium, and the Ravens just kept fighting to a determined 10-9 victory.

 After Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan, his players and a few Ravens traded verbal barbs in the days leading to this heavyweight matchup, the Ravens showed they wouldn't let a few slip-ups get in their way.

 "I thought we played with fundamental soundness," said Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh.  "That's a team that creates havoc against you, and you have to be able to dust off those situations and play the next play. 

"It's a compliment to our players to play that type of football team in this type of environment, and play with that type of discipline and poise."

The Ravens didn't make it easy on themselves early. 

On their first offensive play, quarterback Joe Flacco was sacked and coughed up the football at his own 11-yard line.  After marching all the way to the Jets' 20 on their next series, running back Willis McGahee lost a fumble to end a promising nine-minute drive.

Flacco was again the culprit in the second quarter when he threw an interception on the Jets' 3 that cornerback Antonio Cromartie returned 66 yards.

And even though the turnovers allowed the Jets to cross into Baltimore territory in four of their first five series, the Ravens only gave up three points.

Through it all, the Ravens persevered, netting a kill shot when McGahee gave the Ravens a 7-6 lead with seconds left in the first half.  A stifling defense made sure the Ravens never relinquished it.

"We have a rule, if they don't score, they don't win," said linebacker Ray Lewis.  "Even when the [first] turnover happened, we went out and said, 'They're not scoring. So just make up your mind, respect the ball and do what we do best.  That's not letting them score."

What followed was a gut-check battle between two of the NFL's best defenses.

It was tough sledding against the Jets, as Gang Green allowed only 49 rushing yards the entire game, but the Ravens did have success in their passing attack. 

Flacco completed 20 of 38 passes for 248 yards and logged four throws of at least 27 yards.  He hit high-profile offseason acquisition Anquan Boldin seven times for 110 yards, finding holes in a celebrated secondary that welcomed the return of Darrelle Revis.

The Ravens were far stingier.  Quarterback Mark Sanchez, who previously called the Jets a "dream team," amassed 74 yards through the air, looking lost at times against a Ravens' [apostrophe] defensive backfield missing Ed Reed, Domonique Foxworth and Lardarius Webb.

Baltimore let the Jets convert only one of 11 third-down attempts the entire game, and they finished with only 176 total yards. 

Lewis, who railed against the Jets bravado last week, led the way with a few bone-crunching hits, including his blowup of tight end Dusin Keller on the Jets' fizzling final drive.

Considering Ryan spent 10 years in Baltimore helping to build the Ravens' defense, only to seemingly surpass it in his first year with the Jets, there was a pride element to the win.

"They ended up with the No. 1 defense in the league last year, so for us to come in and really grind this game out, we knew it was going to be a defensive battle," said Lewis.  "It's hard to win on the road, but for us to come in and win the way we did, I just take my hat off to my teammates."

The Ravens also saw the Jets' catch the brunt of referee Walt Anderson's typically-tight crew.

New York gave the Ravens six first downs on penalties, for the most ever in a single game in Ravens history.  The flags that caused first downs ranged from a mundane defensive holding call for 5 five yards to a 28-yard pass interference call on cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

But the most-hurtful Jets penalties might have come on a drive that ended with McGahee bulldozing his way across the goal line in the second quarter.

Two snaps after Flacco's interception, Jets running back Shonn Greene ran into his own man and lost a fumble to safety Dawan Landry.

The Ravens pushed all the way to the Jets' 28-yard line – helped by a 27-yard Flacco pass to wideout T.J. Houshmandzadeh and a 5 five-yard defensive holding call on Cromartie – to set up a successful 46-yard Billy Cundiff field goal.

But instead of taking the three points, the Ravens found new life when New York receiver Braylon Edwards ran into Cundiff and gave the Ravens another first down.

Things then could have stalled three plays later, but Houshandzadeh drew a pass-interference call on rookie corner Kyle Wilson in the end zone, resetting the series yet again, this time at the 1-yard line.

Three cracks at the goal line – including an overthrown Flacco pass to a wide-open Le'Ron McClain – finally yielded McGahee's touchdown plunge.

The Ravens would add another field goal in the third period, a drive assisted by completions of 38 and 27 yards to Boldin with Wilson on the coverage. 

The Jets would hang around with two second-half field goals of their own, but their fate was sealed when Keller ran out of bounds on fourth down just short of the first-down marker, ending the game.

The Ravens came into their regular-season opener talking about how it was like any other week.

But they hope the resiliency they showed by beating such a formidable, familiar and similar opponent can be carried throughout the year.

"We respect them," said running back Ray Rice, noting how several Jets coaches were with the Ravens over the past few years.  "They were us. Their staff was us.  That's why we felt we had to go out there and play our game."

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