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Ravens stay quiet, humble loudmouth Jets
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.
Had his team backed its bravado, Rex Ryan would have assuredly dropped a string of F-bombs in celebrating a New York Jets win.
This wasn’t lost on the opposing head coach.
Behind closed doors after Baltimore’s scrappy 10-9 victory, the more reserved John Harbaugh referenced a biblical verse from Corinthians I as part of his postgame message.
“Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”
Harbaugh’s message: The Lord has a way of rewarding the humble and punishing the arrogant. In this case, the Ravens let their play silence the NFL’s biggest blowhards.
“That was pointed as you can figure, huh?” a smiling Harbaugh told FOXSports.com.
As pointed as the statement Baltimore made to the Jets and the rest of the NFL.
The Ravens don’t need to verbally toot their own horn as potential Super Bowl champions like Ryan and his troops have done throughout the offseason. Baltimore proved it on the field with a dominating defense, improved passing offense and the type of disciplined play the Jets sorely lacked.
Ryan wasn’t completely devoid of bluster after the loss. Asked whether this was humbling, Ryan responded, “Humbling in the fact that we got beat by a point.”
Ravens running back Ray Rice said of Ryan’s title talk: "He put a bull’s-eye on them. He put the pressure on his team. You better write a check you can cash.”
The Jets were offensively bankrupt on Monday night. They gained a meager 176 yards and controlled the football for only 21:28. Second-year Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez showed his preseason struggles weren’t an aberration. Running back LaDainian Tomlinson gained more on two of his runs than Sanchez’s longest completion of 13 yards in a 10-for-21, 74-yard outing.
With the Ray Lewis-led Ravens pressuring Sanchez from every direction, New York’s only third-down conversion on 11 attempts came on its final possession. That drive ended in fitting fashion. Tight end Dustin Keller sailed out of bounds for a nine-yard gain on a 4th-and-10. Even with only a one-point deficit, the sizable number of Jets fans who began leaving the New Meadowlands Stadium at the two-minute warning knew this team needed a Midnight Miracle that wasn’t forthcoming.
“We tried to find out what was working in the game and stick to it,” Keller said. “Unfortunately, we never figured out what that was.”
Baltimore never completely figured out New York’s defense, either. But quarterback Joe Flacco was wise enough to avoid Darrelle Revis and instead attack cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson. Both players struggled trying to stop Baltimore’s upgraded passing attack. The offseason addition of wide receiver Anquan Boldin paid immediate dividends. Boldin had seven catches for 110 yards and helped clear space for tight end Todd Heap, who snared six passes for 72 yards. The Ravens were then able to chew clock with 35 rushing plays.
“Those big (pass) plays ended up being big for us,” Ravens center Matt Birk said. “It’s tough to come out and get four yards a play for 20 plays against a defense like that.”
But the key to this game was what Harbaugh preached to his team in a pregame speech — balancing composure while still playing the kind of physical style the Ravens are known for. The Jets committed a staggering 14 penalties for 125 yards — including six that led to first downs — while Baltimore lost only 38 yards on five infractions. Flacco also didn’t get flustered when the Jets sacked and stripped him on the game’s first play to set up a short field goal.
“They’re a team that wants to snowball,” said Harbaugh, whose team led the league in yards penalized last season. “When they make a play, don’t let it snowball. Dust it off and play the next play. When we make a play, get the next play and the next play so they can start cracking.
“I said the team that was more poised and smarter would win the game. That’s what ended up happening.”
Ryan and the Jets should be worried about another dose of humility coming Sunday when New England (1-0) rolls into town. And unlike what they did with Baltimore, the Jets would be wise to bite their tongues until actually beating someone.
“We felt they did not respect us,” Rice said. “All the talk fueled our guys. It wasn’t us talking back at them. At the end of the day, talking doesn’t win the game.
“From the 'Hard Knocks' show to all the hype ... HBO is not going to win a Super Bowl.”
Neither are the Jets if Monday night is a sign of what’s to come.