The then-defending Super Bowl Champion New York Jets were primarily featured in a novel idea debuted to a transforming nation 39 years and 348 days ago. The concept was titled "Monday Night Football" and in the history of televised sports it was unlike anything that had ever been conceived. Televised football was a game that was chiseled into Saturday and Sunday afternoons at that point.
That the Joe Namath-led Jets lost that game by 10 points was an annoying irrelevancy to the greater broadcast accomplishment. Football could be sold as prime time appointment viewing. Then again, the creators of Monday Night Football didn't envision anything like the Jets 10-9 season opening loss to Baltimore, a game marred with 19 total penalties and two offenses who looked very much inept at times.
After an off-season and training camp in which anyone associated with the franchise vowed that they would win and win big, the Jets came out in prime time and promptly inserted their cleats into their collective mouth. What transpired in front of a nation of eye-witnesses was not appointment viewing. Not even a little bit.
There was nothing for the Jets to point towards as a positive after their dreadful loss to the Ravens at the Meadowlands. The Jets tied a franchise low with six first downs and only gained 176 yards of total offense. Defensively, the Jets could not get off the field on third downs. Most distressingly were the collective 14 penalties for 125 yards from all three units.
The Jets baffling lack of composure will certainly be teaching topic for Rex Ryan and the coaching staff this week. When a team commits as many penalties as the Jets did - many of the mind-numbing variety - and with a despised rival in the form of New England calling in six days, it is certain that the correction of undisciplined play will be emphasized.
Especially pass defense. Jets defensive backs were flagged six times for defensive holding or pass interference.
"That's not who we are. That's not how we play. We pride ourselves on being one of the least penalized defenses in the league. Today it was joke. They just threw it up there. Shoot, I don't blame them. Hope for a completion or a penalty," said a disappointed Rex Ryan. "We have to do a better job than that."
The NFL's top rated defense in 2009 shut down the Ravens running game, only yielding 49 yards on 35 carries. Joe Flacco spent most of the evening keeping the Jets defense on the field, as he completed 20-of-38 passes for 248 yards. Baltimore controlled the ball for 38:32 seconds.
That the Ravens were unable to turn the Jets' multitude of mistakes into more than 10 points could be viewed as a credit to the defense. When that theorem was posed to Bart Scott, the loquacious outside linebacker rejected it as bunk.
"No. We didn't win the game. We have to be better," dismissed Scott. "This defense wants to be great. If you want to be great, you don't make those mistakes."
The offense added its mistakes to complete the Jets' tsunami of failings. Mark Sanchez only completed 10-of-21 passes for 74 yards against a secondary that did not have All-Pro safety Ed Reed. Jerricho Cotchery led the team with two catches for 18 yards.
"We didn't have our best performance and we wanted to play a lot better," said Mark Sanchez. "I think this loss is attributed to a lot of mistakes on offense; on third down and not being able to convert. There's no excuse to be 1-for-11 on third downs. Too many self-inflicted wounds."
The game's penultimate play defined the evening for the Jets. On fourth-and-ten from the Jets' 31 yard line, tight end Dustin Keller grabbed a Sanchez pass and ran out of bounds at the Jets' 40. One Flacco kneel down later, Keller and Sanchez were left to explain what appeared to be an egregious brain lock.
"When I caught the ball I thought I was right at the spot and could just go out of bounds ahead of the first down mark," Keller explained. "Unfortunately that wasn't the case."
"I got him the ball as early as I could. There was a defender under him so I had to put it over him. And that's why he didn't have much time at the end to tap his feet," said a testy Sanchez. "Other than that I don't know what you're getting at."
While it is one game in the 16-game season and it is too early to panic, an explosive Patriots squad does come calling in six days. The Jets recognize that time is of the essence.
"I know we can get better. That's the challenge to us. We have to get better," Ryan stated emphatically. "I believe we will."
You can follow Denis Forman on Twitter @DenisGorman