Ravens Win Battle of ‘Hard Knocks’ Over Jets, 10-9

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It was the same ol’ Baltimore Ravens that showed up in their 10-9 victory over the New York Jets Monday night at the new Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Most experts and fans were expecting the Ravens to showcase their brand new explosive offense against the Jets’ top ranked defensive unit. Instead, they played like they’ve always played: with gritty, smash-mouth defense. When final whistle blew, Baltimore proved they can still win a dog fight with even the toughest opponents. Here’s more on how they game played out:

The Ravens sealed the win when…
Ray Lewis landed the most bone crushing hit imaginable on Jets tight end Dustin Keller to force a Jets incompletion with less than a minute remaining in the game. New York still had another play to pick up a first down with an eye to kicking a game-winning field goal, but Keller never mentally recovered from the hit Ray put on him. Keller caught a pass on fourth down and stepped out of bounds 1 yard short of picking up the first down, causing a turnover on downs. Baltimore knelt on the ball to run the final seconds off the clock and collect their first win of the season.

Most Outstanding Player(s) of the Game:

There wasn’t a more important factor to the Ravens’ win than Ray Lewis. He not only sealed the win for his team, but also set the tone on super intense before the game even kicked off. He got into a trash talking match with Jets coach Rex Ryan, who served as Baltimore’s defensive coordinator for most of Lewis’ tenure with the team. The Ravens were fully hyped to take on their former leader and it was all because Lewis motivated them with verbal shots dished at the Jets throughout the week.

"It became personal when the schedule came out," Lewis said after the game. "I respect Rex. We won a Super Bowl together. But anytime you challenge a warrior, a warrior is going to respond."

Ravens new receiver Anquan Boldin also showed off Monday night, grabbing seven catches for 110 yards, while tight end Todd Heap added six catches for 72 yards.

Unsung Player of the Game:
Having good field position is vital, especially when playing in a tough defensive matchup. And when the Jets started pinning Baltimore in bad field positions, it was the punter, Sam Koch, who bailed them out several times. He had to punt the ball with his back against his own end zone a few times in the second half, which can be very dangerous because of the potential of punt blocks. But each time he still managed to boot the ball far down field and even made a huge tackle when a Jets returner came close to running back one of his punts.

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More Game Notes:
The Jets, who were featured by HBO’s “Hard Knocks” program during the preseason, were projected by many experts to go all the way and win a Super Bowl. But it was the Ravens who won the battle of the hard knocks and perhaps proved they’re a more worthy candidate of reaching the championship. Baltimore may have won mostly with their defense (held New York to just 176 offensive yards), but they also proved they can move the chains on offense. Third-year quarterback Joe Flacco and the offensive unit converted 11 third downs, moving the ball up the field with ease a times. If Baltimore can keep improving on offense, while their defense keeps the intensity, they have a great chance of becoming the best overall team in the NFL. Ravens coach John Harbaugh believes so. "I'm excited about our weapons," Harbaugh said during post game press conference. "You guys talked about us not having weapons, and I would never accept that. Now, we have weapons."

Next Up:
The Ravens (1-0) look to collect their second win and first divisional win of the season when they face the AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals on the road on Sept. 19.