Fa­mil­iar for­mula: Bal­ti­more wins with ‘dom­i­nant’ play from de­fense

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - BY DAVID GINS­BURG

BAL­TI­MORE | Rex Ryan had seen it many times be­fore: The Bal­ti­more Ravens didn’t do much on of­fense, yet it hardly mat­tered be­cause their de­fense was so sharp.

That’s how the Ravens won when Ryan was their de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor from 200508, and that is pre­cisely the for­mula Bal­ti­more used to beat Ryan’s New York Jets on Sun­day.

Joe Flacco threw a 66-yard touch­down pass to Ja­coby Jones, Justin Tucker kicked four field goals and the Ravens shut down the Jets’ sput­ter­ing of­fense in a 19-3 vic­tory.

The de­fend­ing Su­per Bowl cham­pion Ravens (5-6) had lost four of five be­fore bounc­ing back to beat New York (5-6) and keep their play­off hopes alive. Jones had four catches for 103 yards and re­turned five punts for 108 yards.

But Bal­ti­more won on the strength of its de­fense. The unit forced three turnovers, lim­ited the Jets to 220 yards and de­nied 11 of 12 third-down tries. Rookie Geno Smith com­pleted nine of 22 passes for 127 yards and two in­ter­cep­tions, both by Corey Gra­ham.

“What can you say about our de­fense?” coach John Har­baugh said. “It was a dom­i­nant de­fen­sive per­for­mance.”

It was the fewest points al­lowed by Bal­ti­more since De­cem­ber 2009, a 48-3 win over Detroit.

“I feel like we were di­aled in to­day,” line­backer Ter­rell Suggs said. “There’s al­ways a lit­tle some­thing added when we’re play­ing Rex. We’re proud of the fact what we didn’t give up a touch­down, and get­ting off the field on third down was huge.”

New York had al­ter­nated wins and losses in its first 10 games, but the pat­tern ended here with its sec­ond straight de­feat. Ryan, who also served as de­fen­sive line coach with Bal­ti­more from 1999-2004, fell

to 0-3 against his for­mer team.

“We knew, quite hon­estly, that their de­fense was go­ing to be tough sled­ding,” Ryan said. “With that, we’ve got to be more ef­fi­cient on third down. That’s a big rea­son [for] the strug­gles. I thought we dropped too many balls, and that’s where it started of­fen­sively. On de­fense, when you’re play­ing in a game like that, you got to be sound, you got to be good and it has to be for 60 min­utes.

“There’s prob­a­bly three or four plays that we weren’t in.”

The Ravens tried sev­eral ploys to spice up their stag­nant of­fense, most no­tably us­ing backup quar­ter­back Ty­rod Tay­lor in a va­ri­ety of for­ma­tions. Not only did Tay­lor re­ceive a di­rect snap and run, but he also handed off the ball and caught a pass in his most ex­ten­sive ac­tion of the sea­son.

None of it pro­duced a touch­down, though, un­til Jones got be­hind for­mer team­mate Ed Reed and made a fine catch of Flacco’s deep throw be­fore coast­ing into the end zone for a 19-3 lead with 5 sec­onds left in the third quar­ter.

That was more than enough to dis­pose of the Jets, whose of­fense was so out of sync that they burned their third time­out of the sec­ond half with 14:53 left in the fourth quar­ter.

Over his last six games, Smith has thrown 10 in­ter­cep­tions and one touch­down pass.

“This is not on one in­di­vid­ual,” Ryan said. “This is on us, col­lec­tively.”

Ob­vi­ously, that’s the mes­sage Ryan con­veyed to his play­ers.

“We got to back him up,” of­fen­sive tackle Wil­lie Colon said of Smith. “We didn’t do that to­day.”

But Smith’s num­bers have cre­ated con­jec­ture that Ryan might be close to chang­ing quar­ter­backs.

“Every­body al­ways wants a new quar­ter­back in there,” Smith said. “I just keep try­ing to im­prove and work on my­self. I know I can lead this team to the play­offs.”

Tucker kicked a 53-yard field goal for a 12-3 lead early in the third quar­ter af­ter a 20-yard punt re­turn by Jones gave Bal­ti­more the ball at the New York 33.

Gra­ham sub­se­quently ended two New York drives with in­ter­cep­tions in the third and fourth quar­ters.

“They made some plays,” Gra­ham said, “but when it came down to it, we made the big­ger plays. We knew we had to out­play their de­fense, and that’s what we were able to do.”

Bal­ti­more’s pre­vi­ous seven games were de­cided by six points or fewer, four of which re­sulted in losses. This was the Ravens’ most lop­sided win since Sept. 22.

“It’s just a relief to get a win,” line­backer Daryl Smith said.

The Jets trailed 9-3 at half­time de­spite com­plet­ing only three passes, gain­ing 73 yards, mak­ing three first downs and los­ing the ball af­ter the snap hit the man in mo­tion.

Us­ing Josh Cribbs in the wild­cat for­ma­tion on sev­eral plays, New York went up 3-0 with a drive in which Smith caught an 18-yard pass from Cribbs and com­pleted an 18-yarder to Greg Salas.

The Ravens an­swered with field goals on their next two pos­ses­sions. The sec­ond kick was set up by a 60-yard com­ple­tion from Flacco to Tor­rey Smith, who got be­hind An­to­nio Cro­mar­tie and made a nice over-the-shoul­der grab.

Tucker kicked another field goal just af­ter the two-minute warn­ing af­ter tight end Ed Dick­son caught two passes for 40 yards.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHOTOGRAPHS

Ravens line­backer Ter­rell Suggs (55) cel­e­brates his fum­ble re­cov­ery with team­mate James Ihedigbo on Sun­day dur­ing the first half of Bal­ti­more’s 19-3 vic­tory over the New York Jets. The de­fense forced three turnovers and added three sacks of Geno Smith (above).

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