A dejected Mark Sanchez walks to the locker room after...

A dejected Mark Sanchez walks to the locker room after the Jets lost to the Ravens, 10-9 at the New Meadowlands Stadium. (Sept. 13, 2010) Credit: David Pokress

They finally kicked things off last night, beginning one of the most anticipated Jets seasons in franchise history.

With a goal they've made very apparent to anybody and everybody who'll listen - that would be the Super Bowl, for those scoring at home - the Jets know they have to back up their brash talk, something they hoped to do by opening their 2010 campaign with a victory over the Ravens.

But the first game of a new season that began in a new stadium ended up like so many other Jets contests that feature a lot of buildup - with a big-time letdown.

The Jets flamed out, going belly up in their season opener. They floundered on offense, never reaching the end zone, and were victimized by 14 penalties for 125 yards in a 10-9 loss to Baltimore at New Meadowlands Stadium. They had only six first downs, tying a franchise low, and totaled 176 yards on offense. Paper tiger numbers for a team with so many expectations.

"Obviously," Rex Ryan said, "a disappointing loss."

Finding themselves on the wrong end of the scoreboard is only part of the bad news. Kris Jenkins went down during the Ravens' second possession, injuring his left knee after making a tackle. That's the same knee the massive nose tackle tore up last Oct. 18 against the Bills.

Jenkins didn't return, putting a cloud over things early for the Jets, and Ryan didn't have an update on Jenkins' condition after the game.

"That's tough, man," linebacker Bart Scott said, "because he worked so hard to get back and it's just tough. He's the anchor of our defense."

However, his presence likely wouldn't have mattered all that much with the Jets' gaggle of mistakes. They were penalized 10 times in the first half alone, handing Baltimore five first downs.

Offensively, they weren't much better, scraping together 84 first-half yards and failing to convert their first nine third-down opportunities (they finished 1-for-11).

"Us players, we didn't execute well enough to win," fullback Tony Richardson said. "Third down really killed us."

"I'm not questioning our effort, our will or desire to win the game," said Mark Sanchez, who finished 10-for-21 for 74 yards, posting a quarterback rating was 56.4. "There's no doubt that everybody in this locker room wanted to win. But we just didn't execute. It's really unfortunate."

So, too, was Dustin Keller stepping out of bounds a yard before the first-down marker on the Jets' last-gasp drive. Keller caught a pass from Sanchez on fourth-and-10 from the Jets' 31 and ran out of bounds at the 40, shy of the marker. Game over.

"At quick glance, I thought I was right there at the sticks," Keller said, "and I thought I was there for the first down."

Baltimore led 7-6 at halftime and extended it to 10-6 on Billy Cundiff's 25-yard field goal early in the third, which was enough with the way the Jets' anemic offense sputtered all evening. The Jets clawed to within 10-9 with 10:29 remaining on Nick Folk's 48-yard field goal, but never sniffed the red zone again.

"From the 'Hard Knocks' show and all the hype, it's a great win," Ravens running back Ray Rice said. "You can have the 'Hard Knocks' show. HBO's not going to win the Super Bowl. It made a couple of guys fired up on our team. Ray Lewis is one of them. It's a respect thing. We respect them as opponents, but I didn't think they respected us enough to give us credit.

"Hopefully, now we'll get a little respect from them guys."

Possibly, but the Ravens are the last thing on the Jets' minds now. They may have lost their leader on the defensive line for who knows how long, and they have the Patriots rolling into town on Sunday. So they're not about to dwell on this season-opening disappointment.

"Half the league is 0-1," Scott said. "We've got another great team coming in next week and we've got to prepare. We don't have time to sulk in this."

Ryan said: "It is a long season, it is one game. I've got confidence as everybody knows, and every man in our locker room, there's no question. We weren't at our best today . . . But I know we can get better and that's the challenge to us. We have to get better and I believe we will."

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