In actuality, it was a scene benefitting ancient Rome. The co-owned $1.7 billion dollar palace was reminiscent of the Coliseum, complete with a bloodthirsty audience clamoring for their adored green-and-white clad combatants to deconstruct the interlopers ensconced in black and purple.
78,127 roared their approval as the National Football League's premier defense in the 2009 season was introduced one at a time, complete with smoke, flames, fireworks and heavy metal and rap music all conspiring an assault of the senses. The loudest ovation was reserved for Darrelle Revis, who held out all summer in an oft-ugly and very personal contract dispute.
Then the unit that is the cornerstone for what this historically oft-directionless franchise aspires to be went out and stymied a potent Ravens offense in the Jets' Monday night's 10-9 home loss.
Due to penalties (14 for 125 yards) and an inept offense, the Jets defense was on the field for 38:32. The unit limited the Ravens to 49 rushing yards on 35 carries and forced three turnovers (two fumbles and an interception). But what stood out were the 20 first downs allowed (12 passing and six off of penalties) and, most importantly to Bart Scott, that the Jets opened what they trust will be a championship year.
"We didn't win the game. We have to be better. This defense wants to be great. If you want to be great, you don't make those mistakes," said Scott.
Despite the Jets' stated belief that the Ravens would spend the game testing how game-ready Revis was, Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco picked on Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson to the tune of 248 yards on 20 completions. Cromartie and Wilson were penalized five times for pass interference and defensive holding.
"Once we go in and watch film, you can correct yourself. Once you correct yourself, you can't go out and make the same mistakes," Cromartie said. The expatriate from San Diego recorded the Jets' first interception of the season in the second quarter.
"We have to play a little more disciplined with our eyes and communicate a little better. I think that's what we need to do."
Sixteen of Flacco's 20 completions went to wide receivers Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and tight end Todd Heap. The quartet combined for 230 receiving yards and truth be told, the numbers bothered the Jets. And with what appears to be an-already-in-midseason-form Patriots offense in town this Sunday, a repeat performance is something that the Jets hope not to, well, not repeat.
"We're a better team than this. I just think there were a lot of penalties and a lot of distractions on the field with all that was going on. I just think we need to focus a little more and be smart with everything we do on the field," Revis said. "We thought our matchups were very good coming into this game. We knew they had three good receivers. They made plays out there."
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