This might have been a more intriguing matchup if the Jets had not choked in Cincinnati, losing to the previously winless Bengals and ruining all the feel-good emotions from a three-game winning streak. If they had beaten Cincinnati and then the Dolphins, they’d have come to M&T Bank Stadium on a five-game winning streak after a 1-7 start, which would have made their game against the Ravens interesting.
Throw in a healthy Jamal Adams and a healthy Ryan Griffin, and then maybe, just maybe, they would have given Baltimore more than what we saw in a 42-21 loss in the Thursday night prime-time spotlight.
Then again, given how dominant the Ravens have been since a 2-2 start, keeping it that close is a major accomplishment.
If you want to see how far away the Jets are from building a contending team, look at what happened against the Ravens. The Jets may have won four of their last five against NFL lightweights, but when it was time to go up in class against Baltimore, they didn’t stand a chance.
The Ravens are the best team in the game right now and Lamar Jackson is the best quarterback and no one has beaten Baltimore in its last 10 games. The Ravens clinched the AFC North title with the win over the Jets, and they’re one win away from clinching home-field advantage for the AFC playoffs.
The Jets? They’re 5-9 in Adam Gase’s first season, with a decidedly uncertain future ahead of them. General manager Joe Douglas, a longtime executive with the Ravens who also helped build the Eagles’ Super Bowl team of 2017, knows what he saw from his perch in the press box. He watched his former team put all the right personnel pieces together against his current team, which needs help at far too many positions.
It won’t be an instant turnaround; there isn’t enough help in next year’s draft and free- agency cycle. But Douglas understands just how much ground his team needs to make up in the years ahead. He was a part of the Ravens’ traditionally sound roster-building process and then the Eagles, so he knows there is much work ahead.
Look at how badly the Jets were beaten by the Ravens. That’s how much.
“We knew coming into this game how we had to play on offense,” Gase said. “We knew we had to be great with time of possession, we needed to make sure we did a great job with ball security and then when we got our opportunities in the red zone, we had to score touchdowns. We just didn’t do it.”
None of it.
Instead, Jackson got rolling early, slicing through the Jets’ defense with his legs and his arm and coming away with touchdowns on the Ravens’ first two drives to give Baltimore a 13-0 lead. He wound up throwing five touchdown passes and rushing for 86 yards — a one-man demolition crew.
The Jets were severely depleted, especially on defense, where they were missing Adams, defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and cornerbacks Arthur Maulet and Brian Poole. There also were without tackle Chuma Edoga and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. But even if they had been at full strength, they would have been overmatched, mostly because of Jackson.
Jackson, who broke Michael Vick’s single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback Thursday night, has made an increasingly convincing case to win MVP honors in his second season, and John Harbaugh is looking at the possibility of winning a second Super Bowl. This is one of the best-run teams in football, and Jackson’s emergence is one of the great stories of the 2019 season.
Whether you root for the Ravens or not, this young quarterback is a spectacle to behold. He has been virtually unstoppable all season, with the Jets simply the latest team to succumb to his brilliance.
Ravens fans chanted “M-V-P! M-V-P!” in support of Jackson, who at this point is running away with the award.
The Jets? They can only sit back and watch like everyone else. Their time may come someday, but that day is a long, long way off.