BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets own the same record and share several identical problems as they strive to remain relevant in the muddled AFC playoff race.
The Ravens beat the Jets 19-3 Sunday, yet the fashion in which the victory was accomplished hammered home the obvious shortcomings of the defending Super Bowl champions.
Baltimore (5-6) scored only one touchdown, on a 66-yard pass from Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones, and settled for four field goals from Justin Tucker. Although the Ravens finished on the positive end of a rare blowout, they still have problems running the ball, protecting their quarterback and producing touchdowns.
Just like the Jets.
Baltimore averaged 2.2 yards per rush and yielded four sacks. New York (5-6) got 102 yards rushing, went 1 for 12 on third down, had eight of 12 drives last exactly three plays and did not score over the final 51 minutes.
“We’re not doing very well on third downs,” center Nick Mangold said. “We’ve got to run the ball a little better.”
Maybe that would take some of the pressure off rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who completed 9 of 22 passes for 127 yards and was sacked three times. Over his last six games, Smith has thrown 10 interceptions and one touchdown pass.
“This is not on one individual,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said. “This is on us, collectively.”
The receivers haven’t exactly proven to be dependable targets.
“I thought we dropped too many balls, and that’s where it started offensively,” Ryan said.
The Jets were so out of sync that they lost a fumble when the snap hit the man in motion, and they burned their third timeout of the second half with 14:53 left in the fourth quarter.
Here are five things we learned about the Jets and Ravens:
GENO ON HOT SEAT: One week earlier, after Smith struggled in a 37-14 loss to Buffalo, Ryan immediately gave his quarterback a vote of confidence by saying he’d start against the Ravens.
After Smith struggled Sunday, there was no such proclamation.
“I’m not going to talk about any individual, starter or backup or whatever,” Ryan said when asked whether Smith would start next week against the Dolphins.
Smith said: “Everybody always wants a new quarterback in there. I just keep trying to improve and work on myself. I know I can lead this team to the playoffs.”
MANY HAPPY RETURNS: Coming into Sunday’s game, Jones returned just two punts for a mere 3 yards. Of course, that was because Tandon Doss took over that role after Jones was injured in the season opener.
But coach John Harbaugh made a switch on Sunday after Doss allowed Ryan Quigley’s punt to bounce and roll for a 67-yarder. Jones handled punts the rest of the afternoon and was splendid, gaining 108 yards on five returns.
“I thought our special teams played really well the whole game and the punt returns were a big part of what we did,” Harbaugh said.
AN ADDED DIMENSION: Baltimore spent some time in preseason working on ways to utilize backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor. On Sunday, the Ravens finally found an opportunity to implement that package.
Taylor was a big part of the offensive game plan. He lined up in shotgun, as a slot receiver and in the backfield alongside Flacco.
“We’ve talked about getting Tyrod more involved. It’s a challenge,” Harbaugh said. “You have a great athlete, a special athlete who happens to play quarterback. And he is a quarterback. I want to emphasize that. But he’s also got other skills that can help us. We felt like it was something that could help our run game a little bit, especially against this defense.”
DEEP THOUGHTS: By December, Ryan figured his defensive backfield would have addressed its propensity for allowing deep pass completions. But in addition to the 66-yarder to Jones, Flacco burned the New York secondary with a 60-yard completion to Torrey Smith.
“It’s been our Achilles heel, giving up the deep ball,” Ryan lamented. “You can be so good for so long, but you got to do it for 60 minutes.”
The addition of former All-Pro safety Ed Reed helped some, but not enough. So what’s the next step?
“I know the defense is pretty decent, but it’s something where we’re not there and we haven’t fixed it yet,” Ryan said. “We’ll work it until it does get fixed, and I have all the confidence in the world we’ll fix it.”
NOVEMBER MAGIC: The Ravens improved to 10-1 at home in November since Harbaugh took over in 2008, and they’ve got one game left this month — on Thanksgiving night against Pittsburgh at M&T Stadium.
Baltimore has won eight in a row at home during the month, and by adding another notch can get back to .500.
“Every week is a must-win,” Torrey Smith said. “If you lose, things aren’t going to be looking pretty for you. We just have to keep giving ourselves a fighting chance.”
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)