Nearly 19 years ago, the Ravens and Jets played their first game against each other. New York won that day (November 2, 1997), 19-16, in overtime.
Since that day, these two teams have played eight times, and all eight of those games have resulted in Baltimore victories.
This Sunday, they play for the 10th time, but before they do, let’s take a look back at what may have been the best game in this series.
The year was 2009. The Ravens went 9-7 and made it to the divisional round where they lost to the Colts in Indianapolis, 20-3. The Jets also went 9-7 and made it to the conference championship game, where they too lost to the Colts in Indianapolis (30-17).
Those Colts would go on to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLIV, meaning the Ravens and Jets were close to where they wanted to be. That shows you how much was riding on this 2010 Week 1 game. Each team was extremely physical and knew fully well that, even in the first week of the season, lapses and mistakes could result in a deficit they might not be able to overcome.
Rex Ryan was in his second season as the Jets head coach, after he’d spent the previous 10 seasons in Baltimore as a defensive line coach and coordinator. In his last year with Baltimore (2008), he served as Assistant Head Coach to John Harbaugh.
Baltimore was coming off a season in which they finished 3rd in points allowed. New York, however, was ranked 1st in scoring defense in Ryan’s first year. To say points were at a premium in that game would be an understatement.
If you were to take a look at the box score, you might’ve thought the Ravens blew the Jets out. While the Ravens did dominate, it wasn’t on the scoreboard.
Here are some key stats from the game that usually result in a lopsided score:
– 1st downs: Ravens 20, Jets 6
– Time of possession: Ravens 38:32, Jets 21:28
– Longest drive: Ravens 85 yards (field goal), Jets 35 yards (punt)
– Penalties: Ravens 5/38, Jets 14/125
Despite all of that, the Jets did impose their will in other areas of the game:
– Jets rushing: 21 carries for 116 yards (5.5 yard average) and 0 TD
– Ravens rushing: 35 carries for 49 yards (1.4 yard average) and 1 TD
– Turnovers: Jets +2 (Ravens 3, Jets 1)
It was technically a regular season game, but it had all the emotions of a playoff game. There wasn’t a lot of scoring, and it was definitely not a good game from a fantasy football perspective. But even with the game approaching an end, drama was not in short supply.
With 52 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Jets had the ball, down by one point, on their own 31-yard line. What happened next was, let’s say, a statement.
Dustin Keller came across the middle in hopes of converting a Mark Sanchez pass into a first down. Instead, he was absolutely flattened. He’d later find out that truck number was 52.
Ray Lewis decleated Keller, and put an exclamation point on that closely-contested opening-weekend game. He served notice to the entire league that the Ravens were legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
Baltimore won that night, 10-9, and would go on to boast a 12-4 regular season record and claim the AFC’s 5th seed…just in front of the 11-5, 6th-seeded Jets.
Baltimore would lose in Pittsburgh in the divisional round of the playoffs (31-24), but were laying the foundation for what would be a championship team two years later.