The Baltimore Ravens spoiled the New York Jets’ regular-season debut at their new $1.6 billion stadium, shutting down Mark Sanchez and taking advantage of 125 penalty yards for a 10-9 victory.
Baltimore’s Willis McGahee scored the game’s lone touchdown with 11 seconds remaining in the first half last night at New Meadowlands Stadium. His one-yard run was set up by one of eight second-quarter penalties by the Jets and gave the Ravens the lead for good.
The Jets finished with 14 penalties, including four by new cornerback Antonio Cromartie, while second-year quarterback Sanchez had 74 passing yards. New York’s offense was limited to 176 total yards, six first downs and converted one of 11 third-down opportunities.
“We weren’t at our best, but that’s a credit to the Ravens,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said during a news conference. “I know we can get better and that’s the challenge to us. We have to get better.”
Nick Folk’s three field goals accounted for all the scoring for the Jets, whose loss came one day after the Giants opened their National Football League season with a 31-18 win at the teams’ shared stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Diego Chargers 21-14 last night at home to complete the opening week of the NFL’s regular season.
The Jets were coming off a season in which they came one win short of reaching the Super Bowl, having lost eight months ago in the American Football Conference championship game.
During the offseason, New York’s additions included running back LaDainian Tomlinson, wide receiver Santonio Holmes, pass-rushing defensive end Jason Taylor and Cromartie.
The team made headlines in New York with their preseason appearance on the HBO series “Hard Knocks,” during which Ryan said the Jets would win the Super Bowl, and their extended contract impasse with Darrelle Revis. The All-Pro cornerback agreed to a new four-year deal on Sept. 5 after missing training camp and the preseason.
Revis was the anchor of a Jets’ defense that allowed the fewest points and yards in the NFL last year.
The unit got off to a quick start last night, sacking quarterback Joe Flacco on Baltimore’s first offensive play and recovering a fumble at the Ravens’ 11-yard line.
Sanchez and the offense were unable to take advantage, gaining six yards before settling for a 23-yard field goal by Folk. After another Folk field goal, the Ravens took a 7-6 lead on McGahee’s touchdown run and the Jets headed to the locker room at halftime followed by boos from the crowd of 78,127.
Baltimore had 12 first downs during the first half to three for the Jets, while Sanchez had 23 passing yards.
New York’s offense continued to struggle in the second half. When they got the ball at the Ravens’ 35-yard line early in the fourth quarter, the Jets settled for a 48-yard field goal by Folk after gaining five yards on three plays.
Facing a third-and-4 at their 32-yard line with 4:43 remaining, the Jets lost eight yards when Sanchez was sacked.
On the Jets’ final offensive play, tight end Dustin Keller stepped out of bounds about a foot short of the needed yardage on fourth down.
“If we play like we did tonight, we aren’t going to win many games,” Sanchez said. “Hopefully we can get this thing turned around and I think we will.”
While the Jets’ defense limited the Ravens to 49 rushing yards on 35 carries, they lost defensive tackle Kris Jenkins to a first-quarter knee injury and allowed the Ravens to convert 11-of-19 third-down chances.
Receiver Anquan Boldin, who joined Baltimore in the offseason, had seven catches for 110 yards.
“With the ‘Hard Knocks’ show and all the hype, it’s a great win,” Ravens running back Ray Rice said. “HBO is not going to win the Super Bowl. I don’t think they respected us enough.”
The Ravens, who were 2 1/2-point underdogs according to Las Vegas oddsmakers, finished with 282 total yards and 20 first downs, 14 more than the Jets. Five times they got first downs after third-down penalties by Jets defenders, including Cromartie and rookie defensive back Kyle Wilson.
“They kept drives alive and we helped them keep drives alive,” said Ryan, whose team next hosts the New England Patriots on Sept. 19.