The points of concern were there in the preseason, when the ultra-famous New York Jets couldn't do much on the offensive side of the ball. They averaged 14.2 points per game (only the Falcons, Bears and Panthers were worse), 277.2 yards per game (27th in the league), and 16 first downs per game (tied for 25th). But nothing could have prepared the Jets faithful for the pathetic offensive display their team put up in the season opener, a 10-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The best Jets pass thrown all day was probably by linebacker Bart Scott(notes), who zinged a football at Ravens running back Ray Rice(notes) after a bunch of trash talk between the two teams.
Once the game started, productive passing yards were hard to come by on either end. While Sanchez couldn't even complete simple checkdowns in the face of Baltimore's ravenous pass rush, Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco(notes) overthrew pass after pass and was clearly struggling with his mechanics -- at times, he seemed to be pushing or flipping the ball as opposed to just throwing it. Sanchez completed 10 passes in 21 attempts for just 74 yards, and he was sacked twice. Flacco completed 20 of 38 passes for 248 yards and a pick, and you could add the 125 yards and six first downs the Ravens picked up on Jets penalties.
That was as many first downs as the Jets gained on offense -- tying a team record first "attained" in December of 1976 (a 42-3 shellacking at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals). If there's one positive for Sanchez to take away from this game ... well, at least he didn't match Joe Namath's stat line in that ‘76 contest: 4 of 15 for 20 yards and four interceptions! That was Namath's last game in a Jets uniform; Sanchez still has a future in the Big Apple.
The Jets also learned that if you cancel yourself out with penalties, you're probably going to lose. It seemed as if every time you turned around, another Jet (mostly cornerback Antonio Cromartie(notes)) was getting flagged downfield. Cromartie will be one of the most targeted cornerbacks in the game with Darrelle Revis(notes) on the other side, and if Monday night was any indication, he'll mix great plays with head-scratching lapses.
Still, with all that in the way, the Ravens stood a chance of losing the game, as the Jets were driving downfield with a journey that began with 1:37 left in the game. All the Jets had to do was to get within field-goal range from their own 18-yard line, but two straight plays involving tight end Dustin Keller(notes) ended that threat. First, there was the pass over the middle from the New York 31 with 52 seconds left in the game -- Keller had the ball before Ray Lewis(notes) absolutely demolished him, resulting in an incompletion. Two plays later, Sanchez completed a short sideline pass to Keller on fourth-and-10, but Keller inexplicably ran out of bounds before reaching the first-down marker. Perhaps he was still a little groggy after the Lewis hit?
The Ravens move on to face the Bengals in Cincinnati, while the Jets look to pick up the pieces and welcome the New England Patriots to the new Meadowlands. As the Pats just beat up on those Bengals, Rex Ryan's team had best figure out a way to get touchdowns on the board. Settling for field goals against Tom Brady(notes) and Randy Moss(notes) is a strategy destined to fail. And the Ravens need to get Flacco back on track. Revis might be the best cornerback in football, but Cincy still has the best cornerback duo in the game in Leon Hall(notes) and Johnathan Joseph(notes).