BALTIMORE — If this was going to happen for the Jets — if they were going to pull off the biggest upset of the NFL season to date as 17-point underdogs to the uber-talented Ravens — two things were going to have to happen.
- They were going to have to take advantage of every opportunity presented.
- And their defense, which has stood strong for much of this season — particularly against the run — in the face of countless critical injuries, was going to have to keep the game close.
Neither happened, as evidenced by the 42-21 final score in favor of the home side Thursday at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Jets (5-9) teased for a while, but in the end, they predictably crumbled and succumbed to the superior 12-2 Ravens.
The only true pressure point of the night came late in the second quarter when they squandered an opportunity to tighten things entering the second half.
The most damaging moment came ironically while the Jets were accomplishing one of the very things they set out to do, which was keep Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore offense off the field by controlling possession of the ball.
The Jets, trailing 21-7 at the time, grinded out a 13-play, 67-yard drive that ate 7:44 off the clock.
That was the good news.
The bad news was the long drive resulted in nothing when the Jets failed to convert a fourth-and-1 from the Baltimore 7-yard line with 1:54 remaining in the half.
On that play, Sam Darnold tried to connect with Robby Anderson in the end zone, but Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith broke up the pass.
The Jets, after a rare three-and-out hold on defense, got the ball back with 1:03 remaining in the half thanks to a 21-yard punt return by Braxton Berrios that gave them possession at the Baltimore 41-yard line.
A 9-yard Darnold pass to Jamison Crowder moved the ball to the Ravens 25-yard line with 29 seconds remaining in the first half, and it appeared they would get at least a field goal to cut the Baltimore lead to 21-10 at the half.
But on the next play, Darnold was intercepted by Ravens safety Chuck Clark with 18 seconds remaining, as his intended target, tight end Daniel Brown, never looked for the ball.
The Jets defense, which entered the game ranked No. 2 against the run, allowing an average of 78.8 yard per game, was ripped on the ground by the Ravens offense, which entered the game ranked first in rushing.
The Ravens, led by Jackson and running back Mark Ingram, finished with 218 rushing yards. They had 133 yards on the ground in the first half alone.