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The Ravens invested a lot in their wide receiver corps this offseason. On Monday night it was clear they're going to get a good return on their investment.
Asked whether the Ravens' 10-9 victory proved why Baltimore traded for wide receiver Anquan Boldin, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh gave a definitive answer.
"Heck yeah," he said.
Boldin was a huge part of the Ravens' aerial success, making seven catches for 110 yards in his Ravens debut. But the other good news for Baltimore is that he wasn't the only part.
The Ravens relied on a deep passing attack that they have been somewhat lacking in years past. In part also thanks to T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Baltimore gained yardage in "chunks," which Harbaugh said is the way to defeat New York's vaulted defense.
"I'm excited about our weapons," Harbaugh said. "You guys talked about us not having weapons [in the past]. Well, now we've got weapons. We've got guys all across the board that Joe can throw to."
Boldin took over on the Ravens' eventual game-winning drive, which produced their field goal near the start of the third quarter. On third-and-7, he made a leaping catch in traffic deep along the right side for a 38-yard gain. Three plays later, he made a 27-yard grab on the left sideline that put the Ravens inside the red zone.
Boldin down played his performance in the locker room afterwards. In fact, he said he was disappointed that they didn't connect on several more plays. But Boldin did see enough Monday night to know it's going to be tough for any team to cover Baltimore's wideouts.
"I don't think there's any team in this league that can match up their three corners with our three receivers," Boldin said. "We have three No. 1 receivers on the field."
Houshmandzadeh, who had a week to learn the Ravens' offense and prepare for the Jets, caught just one pass but played a large role in Baltimore's lone touchdown drive.
Facing Jets Pro Bowl cornerback Antonio Cromartie, Houshmandzadeh caught a 27-yard pass along the left sideline on third-and-3. Joe Flacco went deep to him again on the next play and Cromartie was called for an obvious hold.
Flacco targeted Houshmandzadeh three straight times with the Ravens on the Jets' 23-yard line. All three went incomplete, but Houshmandzadeh drew pass interference on rookie Kyle Wilson in the end zone on the final attempt, setting Baltimore up on the 1-yard line.
"I could have done that all game to be honest with you and I told them that from the very beginning," Houshmandzadeh said. "I would have just hoped that there was no P.I. Just let me get the yards and the catches."
Houshmandzadeh said he still didn't feel totally comfortable in the Ravens' offense. He had to think for a second after a few play calls, which he didn't like. He said in another week he'll be "just like a quarterback who can't throw."
It was only his first game, but after gaining 233 passing yards on the Jets' secondary – a unit that surrendered an average of 153.7 last season – Houshmandzadeh is seeing big things for Baltimore's offense.
"We can turn this thing into the Rams [of 1999-2000]," Houshmandzadeh said. "Get the lead and pound them. Get the lead in the fourth quarter and let Ray, Willis and Le'Ron go to work."