New York Jets, Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
New York Jets, Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens, Getty Images

The top plays that determined New York Jets-Baltimore Ravens

If you looked at the box score before looking at the actual score, you would have believed the New York Jets defeated the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1. New York outperformed Baltimore in a few key categories, including total yards (378 to 274) and total first downs (24 to 13).

Much of this game was neck-and-neck. There were just a handful of big momentum-changers that turned the tide on the scoreboard, and all of them went in the Ravens’ favor.

And that is the primary key that the Jets must improve going forward: they must find a way to turn the big-play differential in their favor.

The Jets were competitive with the Ravens on a down-to-down basis, but they made killer mistakes while the Ravens did not, and the Ravens hit game-altering home runs when they needed to while the Jets were relegated to hitting singles throughout the afternoon.

With this in mind, it’s worth taking a look back at the game to see which specific plays were the biggest momentum-swingers in Baltimore’s favor. By identifying these plays, we can learn about the particular issues that the Jets must clean up to improve their big-play differential going forward.

In each game, NFL Next Gen Stats estimates the win probability for both teams at every point of the game.

Based on this metric, here are the five plays from Jets-Ravens that had the largest negative impact on the Jets’ win probability.

5. (Q3, 7:20, BAL 10-NYJ 3) 3rd and 10 at NYJ 17. Lamar Jackson pass deep middle to Devin Duvernay for 17 yards, TD.

  • Win probability before: 11%
  • Win probability after: 7%
  • Differential: -4%

This one was a dagger for the Jets.

Starting a drive on their own side of the field after a 20-yard Braden Mann shank, the Ravens drove into the red zone. But the Jets forced the Ravens into a 3rd & 10 situation on the 17-yard line after a pair of run stuffs by Michael Carter II and John Franklin-Myers. If the Jets could hold the Ravens to a field goal, they’d keep the margin at just 10 points.

Instead, Devin Duvernay beat Jordan Whitehead for a 17-yard touchdown. Lamar Jackson evaded pressure from Carl Lawson and delivered a great throw. Baltimore extended its lead to 14 points.

The Jets were all but buried when considering the quality of the opponent and the offense’s ineptitude to this point of the game. Their win probability dropped to 7%.

4. (Q1, 14:01, BAL 0-NYJ 0) 3rd and 5 at NYJ 46. Joe Flacco pass incomplete short right. PENALTY on NYJ-J. Flacco, Intentional Grounding, 10 yards

  • Win probability before: 42%
  • Win probability after: 37%
  • Differential: -5%

One of the biggest plays actually came on the Jets’ very first drive.

The Jets were starting to get something going on the opening drive of the game. Michael Carter started things up with a 19-yard run. An incomplete pass followed, but after a 5-yard Carter run, the Jets were facing a manageable 3rd & 5 from the 46-yard line.

Third down was a disaster. With 13 personnel on the field (3 tight ends), the Jets flexed third-string tight end Lawrence Cager out wide, asking him to run an out route against cornerback Kyle Fuller. Predictably, Cager could not separate, forcing Flacco to hold the ball since Cager appeared to be his first read.

Then, left guard Laken Tomlinson quickly allowed pressure into the pocket, leading to Flacco throwing the ball into no man’s land for an intentional grounding penalty.

New York was on its way to taking an early lead against a better opponent, which could have changed the course of the game. Instead, this nightmare of a play led to a punt, taking the momentum out of the Jets’ hands. Additionally, the huge loss of yardage via the penalty undid much of the field-position work that the Jets had done by gaining 24 yards on the drive.

3. (Q2, 10:54, BAL 3-NYJ 0) 4th and 4 at BAL 27. Greg Zuerlein 45 yard field goal is No Good, Wide Left.

  • Win probability before: 38%
  • Win probability after: 30%
  • Differential: -8%

Missing a field goal is an emotional gut-punch that sucks the life out of a team. That feeling is reflected in the win probability column.

Early in the second quarter, the Jets brought out Greg Zuerlein to attempt a 45-yard field goal following an eight-play, 44-yard drive that spanned nearly four minutes. A make by Zuerlein would tie the score after nearly 20 minutes of football – a scenario that I’m sure every Jets fan would have signed up for prior to the game.

Zuerlein hooked the kick to the left, leaving the Jets scoreless. The Jets’ win probability dropped from 38% to 30%. With a make, the Jets’ win probability likely would have climbed into the 40s.

After blowing this opportunity, the Jets would never tie the game or take the lead. Baltimore remained in control for the rest of the way.

2. (Q2, 3:51, BAL 3-NYJ 0) 3rd and 5 at NYJ 25. Lamar Jackson pass deep right to Devin Duvernay for 25 yards, TD.

  • Win probability before: 27%
  • Win probability after: 16%
  • Differential: -11%

This is the play that officially put the Ravens in control after the two teams exchanged punts and field goal attempts throughout most of the first half.

Baltimore had driven deep into New York territory thanks to a 32-yard pass interference penalty by free safety Lamarcus Joyner. In fact, that penalty by Joyner led to a 4% drop in win probability (30% to 26%), tying it for the 5th-largest momentum-swinger of the game. Since it led directly to this touchdown, I figured I would just mention it here rather than giving it its own section.

The Jets forced the Ravens into 3rd & 5 at the 25-yard line after Sauce Gardner broke up a potential touchdown pass intended for Mark Andrews and C.J. Mosley stopped a short pass for a 5-yard gain. By holding the Ravens to a field goal, the Jets could keep it a one-score game heading into what would likely be their final offensive drive of the first half.

Instead, Jackson made a perfect throw to Devin Duvernay for a 25-yard score, just barely beating the tight coverage of Bryce Hall. Baltimore took a 10-0 lead, which felt like a larger margin considering how the Jets offense was playing.

While the Jets were far from buried at this point, this touchdown definitely changed the game from a close defensive battle that could be won with minimal scoring to a game in which it was clear the offense would have to significantly step it up if the Jets were to win.

1. (Q1, 5:07, BAL 0-NYJ 0) 1st and 19 at NYJ 32. Joe Flacco pass short middle intended for Lawrence Cager INTERCEPTED by Marcus Williams at NYJ 46. Marcus Williams to NYJ 13 for 33 yards.

  • Win probability before: 46%
  • Win probability after: 31%
  • Differential: -15%

Turnovers are always major difference-makers in the win probability metric. There was only one turnover that occurred in this game while it was still competitive, so, naturally, it takes the top spot here.

It was only the first quarter when Joe Flacco threw his interception, but it was a costly one, as it set the Ravens up with prime field position (Jets’ 13-yard line).

New York began this drive promisingly as Flacco hit Elijah Moore for 24 yard to reach the 41-yard line. On the next play, though, Lawrence Cager committed a holding penalty to bring the Jets back to their own 32.

Then, Cager slipped on his route, contributing to the Flacco interception – although it was a throw that Flacco shouldn’t have tried anyway even if Cager didn’t slip. The throw looked to be brutally inaccurate, too, even if Cager ran his route as intended.

Over the past three years prior to this game, the Ravens were 15-3 in road games when taking the ball away at least once. They were only 1-5 when collecting zero takeaways.

With this early turnover, the Jets already put themselves on the wrong side of those splits. They teed up free points for a team that came in as 6.5-point road favorites. You just cannot afford to have these types of costly turnovers if you have any hopes of pulling off an upset.

Ultimately, out of these top five momentum-changing plays, we saw that two of them were on offense, two of them were on defense, and one was on special teams.

In other words, everyone has to be better.

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at] - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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16 days ago

Thanks for pointing out that even if Cager doesn’t fall the pass was likely going to be picked.

Jonathan Richter
Jonathan Richter
16 days ago

I hardly think the Flacco INT was that important. For one thing, it was the Cager penalty that put us behind the 8 ball, and then the Cager slip that lead to the INT. But more importantly, the defense held Baltimore to a FG after the INT. If anything I felt like that gave us positive momentum that our D held despite being put in a terrible position.

The intentional grounding, first of all should be blamed on Tomlinson and Fant getting destroyed. If Flacco doesn’t ground it he takes a sack instead. I don’t see the difference. the penalty didn’t really matter, it was the O line getting destroyed.

I’ll agree with several other commenters that the Joyner DPI was more important than the TD over Bryce Hall’s tough coverage.

I can’t believe the MC TD drop doesn’t make the list.

Matt Galemmo
Matt Galemmo
17 days ago

I want to know about a 3rd-and-2 play at 4:54 in the third quarter. Before this play, I’m thinking, OK, Ravens will man up, so stack two receivers, make the DBs play different levels, and one guy cuts in/out while the other guy sits down at the sticks. You put the man on the line in conflict, and one of those guys will be open for 2 measly yards.

So the Jets do motion into a stack, but while one WR cuts out (and is probably open), the other runs a deep curl or something. Why didn’t he just sit down right there and get the first down?

When your QB is playing like a statue and your OL is swiss cheese, don’t you have to take advantage when the down and distance actually favors you? Call a quick concept there, right? What was up with that deep curl?

Flacco had a terrible game, sure, but when they gave him quick reads the Jets moved the ball. And if they stayed with it, maybe something deep might’ve opened up. I don’t understand what I think was absurd stubbornness to throw into the intermediate level, even on 3rd-and-2.

Matt Galemmo
Matt Galemmo
17 days ago
Reply to  Michael Nania

Michael, thank you for validating what I was seeing. I think what disappoints me most about this game is not the play of Flacco, Tomlinson or Fant, but the fact that the Ravens did exactly what the Jets expected, and the Jets still couldn’t convert a third down. Baltimore blitzed and played man behind it. Where were the man beaters? Where were Conklin’s rocker-step routes, Ozumah’s TE screens and seam routes, or Carter’s flat and wheel routes? Why didn’t the Jets threaten the edge with Berrios?

I think Patrick Queen outplayed what I was told to expect, but other than that, I think the Ravens did exactly what they do, and getting exactly what they should’ve expected seemed to completely befuddle the Jets.

Richard Hausig
Richard Hausig
17 days ago

All you say is true Michael. I think these are symptoms of a bigger problem, the coaching preparation, game planning and play calling.

Example – “forcing Flacco to hold the ball since Cager appeared to be his first read.”

I have rooted for Cager since he signed as a non drafted WR. Thats why I would assume that he is on the field in that situation because he is the preferred option. The Ravens knew that too.

You wrote about the game being close and it was until mid 3rd Q. For me this was the moment to stay committed to the ground game. Establish the run! But no, your OC panicked and fell into the same pattern. 1st down run, 2nd down pass 3rd down pass. Oh and btw, we kept running the same type of plays with very little variety. I understand that a lot of teams use the same couple of runs using different formations to disguise the play. Fine. But Baltimore knew what was coming because the OC fell into predicable patterns. I wouldn’t mind if he was predicable as long as he focuses on creating an identity and that identity, with this group, should be ground and pound. Yes you will endure 3 and outs but you do anyway! We are not the Chiefs. With our QBs, young WRs and developing OL its imperative to get them into situations that more advantageous and that means getting the opposing defense to think the run is coming and then pass. We are not proficient enough yet to compete against defenses that know the pass is coming. Run it enough and you will create better passing opportunities.

The defense held its own for a while but as usual the breakdowns were too numerous and speak to a lack of focus and preparation. I think we all believe the talent is improved so how do you explain the same old lapses? I love coach Salah, he’s the kind of guy you’d want your daughter to marry. But he’s not shown us he gets this or that his program is working. The disorder, breakdowns and lack of identity speak to the coaching and it’s really ugly to watch. Playing clean and smart but losing to a better team is progress right now. This is not progress. It looks like all gas, no plan.

Peter Buell
Peter Buell
17 days ago

I can’t bear another Flacco start. Especially one that comes with a promise of “no quick hook”
Mike White isn’t the answer but he does give the Jets offense a better shot of moving the ball with him moving out of the pocket where Flacco seemed to live.
Let’s be honest and admit Flacco was a game manager in his best days who counted on field position provided by his D, his height advantage and short quick passes with the occasional long shot.
He’s older, maybe wiser but his body can’t do what his mind is telling him if that’s the case.
If Flacco is in the Cleveland game at the end of the 1st half either the D created turnerover scores or Saleh is a glutton for punishment.
With the head coaches Flacco proclamation I wish my heart would let me bet Cleveland.
Seems like easy money…Stubborn!

Richard Hausig
Richard Hausig
17 days ago
Reply to  Peter Buell

Heard someone say they don’t want to play White because they are worried he’s better than Wilson right now. I can believe that because I believe they didn’t bring a vet in early last year for fear Wilson couldn’t beat him out. The staff is stuck between having to develop a project QB and winning some games. Its very precarious spot especially for a young coaching staff. I rewatched all 59 passes and listened to some of the experts and I dont think Flacco had a chance with the pressure. Wilson will give you more mobility (not sure if that would mean more productivity) and White is only slightly more mobile than Flacco. Protect the QB, establish the run until you’ve established it and do a better job with the play calling. I think that’s the best you can hope for. Wilson is not going to fix this Peter. Hes not there yet. The only way for the NYJ to win games is to play good defense, protect the ball, own the ToP and wear down the opponent’s defense. Basically, bore us to death but I fear that this inexperienced staff can’t see the woods for the trees here. Its always on the QB, yes, but the team is not well organized or prepared and it looks like a mess all around. We don’t have a QB capable of making a difference by himself. This is about the staff getting the players on the same page and properly prepared.

Matt Galemmo
Matt Galemmo
17 days ago

I guess all these win potential percentages can do can calculate the change in win likelihood based on what actually happened, but it missed the two most important plays if you consider what might have happened…

Joyner’s DPI should have been an incomplete pass, bringing up fourth down, and negating Duvernay’s first touchdown.

The fumble that Reed forced that Clemons unluckily couldn’t corral could have been an immediate change of possession. It was immediately followed by Bateman’s score.

Flip those two plays (Joyner to what should have happened, and Reed/Clemons to what could’ve have been with better luck) and two Raven touchdowns disappear. It could be a 10-3 game in the fourth quarter. Or better…who knows what the Jets would have done with the possession following the fumble?

I have NO IDEA what Joyner was doing on that DPI. It should have been a harmless incomplete pass and change of possession. It was a monumental play.

Peter Buell
Peter Buell
16 days ago
Reply to  Matt Galemmo

I see a much better team all around I just strongly feel Flacco is done.
Drives me crazy Wilson didn’t just go out of bounds in that pre-season game.
Right now I’d rather have almost anyone but Flacco. Hope I’m surprised

Jim G
Jim G
16 days ago
Reply to  Peter Buell

We have to remember that Wilson’s injury was a non-contact injury so it would have happened at some point. In this respect, the Jets caught a break that it happened in pre-season rather than in Game 1 or any time during the regular season.

17 days ago

All huge plays, and quite honestly I feel they can be corrected. Listened to your podcast last night you guys crushed Fant, and deservingly so, however you noted in your article here pt. 4, Tomlinson allowed quick pressure. Laken was as bad if not worse than Fant. He was alarmingly bad all day. Fant at least gets the benefit of being bounced around and banged up a bit while preparing but why did Tomlinson lay an egg?

I understand Flacco isn’t mobile and I feel Zach would have been much better but the pressure right up the middle is concerning since the G/C positions were supposed to be the strength of the OL.

I’d love to see a breakdown of Mitchell, is someone planning to do one? Did he play alright or was he helped? I wonder if the low TE output was impacted by them having to do more blocking than expected?

The 13 package didn’t bother me, it’s when they tried to use it that bothered me. I’d rather see them try to exploit the defense with their top players then mix in the wrinkle. I thought they tried to get too cute. Play your studs.

17 days ago
Reply to  Michael Nania

Yeah that left side did not fare well this game.

17 days ago
Reply to  Michael Nania

I’d like to know if there is a chance Mitchell can be “average” by the end of the year.