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Jets grades: Defense aces test, special teams flunks

New York Jets kicker Nick Folk (2) watches

New York Jets kicker Nick Folk (2) watches his blocked field goal attempt with 3:09 remaining in the second half during a game against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2016. Photo Credit: Lee S. Weissman


In less than a half-game of work, Geno Smith went 4-for-8 for 95 yards and a touchdown — a 69-yard catch-and-run by Quincy Enunwa in the first quarter. But his first start in nearly two years was short-lived. After he was forced to leave the game with a knee injury, Ryan Fitzpatrick took the reins. The veteran didn’t look great (9 of 14, 120 yards, three sacks, one touchdown), but in Smith’s absence, the offense got the job done. A big reason? The production of running back Matt Forte (two touchdowns, 154 total yards). The Jets finally scored some second-half points, but they still have red-zone issues to fix (2 of 4).


No Mo, no problem. Even with their star defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle) inactive, the unit finally showed signs of life. Defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson (sack, team-high eight tackles) finally played in his regular spot and had a huge day. Back-to-back picks of Joe Flacco by Buster Skrine and Marcus Gilchrist help to jump-start the second-half comeback. Overall, Todd Bowles’ defense kept Flacco (25 of 44, 248, one sack) off his game, didn’t allow the Ravens to score a touchdown and gave up only six rushing yards after surrendering 171 rushing yards in Arizona. Richardson said the group took it personal when Cardinals running back David Johnson rushed for 111 yards on them. “Course we did,” he said. “We know we’re better than that. We answered the bell this game.”


Lachlan Edwards has been one of the bright spots all during this disappointing season, but his big miscue in the first quarter, led to seven points for the Ravens. The typically sure-handed punter let a snap sail through his fingers, resulting in a Baltimore TD. Edwards was charged with two fumbles on the play, and after the game, Bowles said: “There’s no excuse.” Nick Folk nailed a 22-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter, but had a 51-yard attempt blocked late in the fourth. Jalin Marshall had too many mental errors in the return game, including fielding his first punt from inside the 5 while back peddling. He averaged six yards on his three punts.


Not only did the Jets snap their four-game losing streak, but seldom-used backups were given a chance. More important? The coaches finally put Richardson in his right spot and it paid off. A couple critiques: The Jets hadn’t won a game since Sept. 15, but they played not to lose in the second half instead of playing to win. There are still too many mental errors by players (on both sides of the ball. And Chan Gailey needs to retire the shovel pass once and for all.


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