Ravens win white-knuckle thrill ride over Jets on Monday Night Football

New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez throws against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half in their NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, September 13, 2010. Ravens' Trevor Pryce is at left. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Well, that was fun. Watching the Jets’ offense was roughly about as exciting as a three hour root canal in which your dentist has to jab you with a Novocain needle six times because he keeps missing the nerves in your mouth.

The only difference between Mark Sanchez and Trent Edwards right now is $7.25 million a year. The second-year quarterback did nothing Monday night to silence critics that say he’s the one thing that will hold the Jets back from competing for a Super Bowl berth.

In his team’s 10-9 loss to the Ravens, Sanchez completed 10-of-21 passes for 74 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. For those scoring at home, his average completion averaged a measly 3.5 yards. There’s a good chance that if he purposely tried to trip over one of his offensive lineman every play, he could have fallen forward for more yards then if he attempted a pass.

Drop back, look down field, hold for one second, check down to running back, repeat.

When the Jets’ offense came back onto the field down one point with under two minutes left, they had no shot to get into field goal range because Sanchez wasn’t going to throw vertical. And even when he went temporarily insane and threw the ball further than three yards on a crucial 4th and 10 at the end of the game, tight end Dustin Keller caught the ball and ran out of bounds one yard short of the first down marker when nobody was around him. Keller must have felt that the Ravens played hard enough to earn the win, so he’d just give it to them. Of course, he was hit so hard by Ray Lewis the play before that it’s possible he didn’t know what down, quarter or team he played for by that point.

Speaking of the Ravens, they didn’t set the world on fire with their offensive performance tonight, but at least they moved the ball. Turnovers killed them in the first half and they couldn’t run against the Jets’ stingy front seven, but how good did Anquan Boldin look in his Baltimore debut? He beat Kyle Wilson so many times that the New Jersey highway patrol is going to have to stop the Ravens’ bus before it heads to the airport so they can integrate Boldin about domestic abuse.

Does anybody else feel like they just got done watching a fourth preseason game?

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Matty Ice is still learning

With how exceptionally well he played as a rookie last year, it’s easy to forget that Matt Ryan only has 24 career starts under his belt.

Ryan did some great things in the Falcons’ 35-27 loss to the Saints on Monday night, most notably throwing a 68-yard rainbow to Roddy White to cut New Orleans’ lead to 28-21 early in the third quarter. He also found White and Tony Gonzalez on some key third downs to keep the chains moving and leave the Saints’ dynamic offense on the sidelines for most of the second half.

But he also made some mistakes that second year quarterbacks are unfortunately prone to making. Things like zeroing in on Gonzalez or forcing a pass into a well covered White late in the first half that led to a huge defensive touchdown for the Saints. He also looked rushed in the pocket at times and took a couple of unnecessary sacks because he didn’t go through all of his progressions. For a young man who has built the reputation of having ice water in his veins, “Matty Ice” looked uneasy several times when the Falcons needed a big play in the passing game.

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Titans make statement with huge win over Colts

Kerry CollinsYou could have heard writers in Tennessee and Indianapolis pound away at their keyboards at halftime of the Monday Night Football game. They were writing things like, “The Colts are back” and “The Titans won’t be able to win without a passing game.”

After one half of football, Indy had led the Titans 7-6 and their usually Swiss-cheese front seven was surprisingly stuffing the Titans’ powerful running attack. Veteran quarterback Kerry Collins has been lauded for his game management skills this year, but essentially criticized for not making enough big plays in the passing game.

But that all changed in the second half as Collins found open receivers in the second half and killed the Colts secondary with timely passes on big third down plays. The Titans managed to score 25 second half points in rout to a convincing 31-21 win, which is not only significant because they remain the only undefeated team in the league, but also because they got the proverbial monkey that is the Indianapolis Colts off their back.

Anyone who is still waiting for the Titans to crash down to earth can put those opinions to rest. They’re clearly the best team in the AFC and while it’s still hard to believe they won’t lose a couple games this year, they should have one of the top two playoffs spots locked up eventually. (Especially with the Pats, Colts and Chargers down this year.)

As for the Colts, I don’t know what Tony Dungy was thinking going for it on 4th and 1 at midfield early in the second. The game was tied 14-14 and Tennessee’s defense was starting to tighten up. I realize he has all those offense weapons at his disposal and should be able to pick up one yard, but why go with a run up the gut then? It completely shifted the momentum in the Titans’ favor and that proved to be the difference in the game. The Colts are pressing and worse, they’re in a ton of trouble.

Anderson, Browns torch Eli, Giants

Derek AndersonWhat Derek Anderson and the Cleveland Browns did to the New York Giants in their 35-14 win Monday night was shocking, unpredictable and awfully impressive. Not only did Anderson save his job, but the Browns might have also saved their season.

The numbers for Anderson were impressive – 18 for 29, 310 yards, 2 TDs – but what doesn’t show up in the stat sheet is how well Cleveland’s offensive line played. They picked up every blitz the Giants’ defense attempted and consistently opened holes for Jamal Lewis and the Browns’ running game. (Lewis, by the way, had his best game of the year. He ran hard all night.)

What Cleveland did was turn the Giants’ game against them. The Browns were more physical, aggressive on both sides of the ball and constantly pressured Eli Manning. And besides committing 45 penalties (including 40 on one drive in the forth quarter), the Brownies played close to perfect. Without a doubt, this was a complete performance.

That said, the Giants also played like absolute crap. Eli had that same dumfounded look on his face tonight as he did when he first came into the league. He made a couple of nice throws, but his three interceptions were brutal and ones that rookie quarterbacks make. Cleveland did a great job of getting in his face all night and he didn’t handle well. Again, the Browns took what New York does best and used it against them.

I know Brown fans love the win, but some of them must feel a little queasy knowing Romeo Crennel will still patrol the sidelines with each victory.

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