Jets, Smith sputter in 19-3 loss to Ravens
Eleven games into the season, the New York Jets have the kind of problems that are usually addressed in training camp.
Coach Rex Ryan is trying to figure out what to do with a rookie quarterback stuck in a slump, an ineffective running game and a receiving corps prone to dropping passes.
It didn't matter that his defense held the Baltimore Ravens to a single touchdown in a 19-3 loss Sunday, because the Jets were awful when they had the ball. Geno Smith went 9 for 22 passing for 127 yards and two interceptions, New York converted only one of 12 third-down tries and the Jets failed to score over the final 51 minutes.
"We weren't consistent running the football, and we tried to run it," Ryan said. "We kind of lacked some consistency. At times, it looked like we'd run it well and at times not so much. It's hard to be consistent with those drops and I think that's another problem, another issue, we thought we'd moved past. But apparently we're not there yet.
"Clearly, we've got a ton of work to do."
New York (5-6) 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."
The Jets' 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."
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 Jacoby Jones got behind former teammate Ed Reed and made a fine catch of Joe Flacco's deep throw for a 66-yard touchdown that made it 19-3 with 5 seconds left in the third quarter.
The defending Super Bowl champion Ravens (5-6) had lost four of five before bouncing back to 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, including two interceptions by Corey Graham, and had three sacks.
"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."
Justin 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."
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.
Notes: The Ravens have at least one sack in 22 straight games, tying a franchise record. ... Jets LB Troy Davis left with a chest injury in the second half and did not return. ... Torrey Smith has 859 yards receiving, a new career high.
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