By Aaron Wilson, The Baltimore Sun
9:22 PM EST, November 24, 2013
No matter where New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith tried to throw the football Sunday, he was rarely able to elude Ravens cornerback Corey Graham.
Graham intercepted the turnover-prone quarterback twice during the second half of the Ravens' 19-3 win Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, exploiting the mistakes of the former West Virginia star. It's the second time Graham has had two interceptions in one game in his career. Last season, he intercepted Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning twice in the AFC divisional round.
"We knew going into the game that we were going to have to play good, solid defense," Graham said. "We wanted to be aggressive and to get our hands on the receivers and make him make tight throws, and we were able to do that. We were able to execute our game plan, make a lot of plays, and we just took advantage of the ones that came to us."
In the third quarter, Graham elevated over tight end Jeff Cumberland on a sideline pass. In the fourth quarter, Graham undercut an end-zone throw intended for wide receiver Greg Salas.
"On the second one, we were in a zone defense and I was able to play over the top and I was looking at him," Graham said. "I [saw] him looking down a seam or two, and I was able to overlap and make the play. That was just a very good play. That was my play. I was looking for it, and it happened all right."
Smith has 18 interceptions and eight touchdown passes this season, with one touchdown pass and 10 interceptions in his past six games. On Sunday, Smith completed only 9-of-22 passes for 127 yards and a 22.3 quarterback rating. He was sacked three times.
"I think the front seven played a hell of a game," cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "They didn't give him a chance to think. They kind of loosened us up on the back end and helped our job out a lot.
"Geno's still a young guy. He's got a lot of room for improvement. He's going to be a dangerous quarterback. He's going to be a great one, one day."
Knocking them through
Despite gusty wind conditions, kicker Justin Tucker converted for four field goals.
Tucker hit kicks from 30, 26, 33 and 53 yards and has converted 24 of 26 field goals this season for a 92.3 percent success rate.
He's now made 22 consecutive field goals, tying Matt Stover for the second-longest streak in franchise history.
"Seems like over the last several weeks, conditions have been crazy in general," said Tucker, who kicked in the mud a week ago during a loss to the Chicago Bears. "Just to be able to come through for my guys was great."
Tucker's most difficult field goal was a 53-yarder in the third quarter as he dealt with shifting winds and powered it through the uprights.
"More than anything, I'm just glad it went through," Tucker said. "They're expecting me to put three points on the board no matter where it's from. I was pretty pumped up to hit that ball. As soon it left my foot, I had no doubt."
The Jets' stout front seven lived up to their advance billing as the top-ranked run defense in the league.
The Jets limited the Ravens to 67 rushing yards on 31 carries as running back Ray Rice gained just 30 yards on 16 carries for a 1.9 average one week after rushing for a season-high 131 yards against the Bears.
"No sugar coating, those boys were hunting," Rice said. "I've got to give it to them. It was a Rex Ryan defense, much respect. That's not a knock on our line, but when you face an excellent defense like that you just take whatever you can get. We're just glad to be able to come out with this win."
Outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw delivered a pair of devastating blocks on punt returns.
Upshaw's first big block helped spring Jacoby Jones for a season-long 37-yard punt return as he plowed into unsuspecting Jets linebacker Troy Davis, causing him to leave the game with a chest injury after being checked out for a potential concussion.
In the fourth quarter, Upshaw delivered a block to Jets punter Ryan Quigley that he expects to earn him a fine from the league office. Upshaw knocked down Quigley, drawing a personal foul.
"From my understanding, they're going to protect the punters just like a quarterback," Upshaw said. "I thought it was clean. I'm not a dirty player. As soon as he threw [the flag], my whole thought process was, 'This fine is going to be crazy.' Hey, I think it was clean."
Ravens nose tackle Haloti Ngata was back on the field Sunday after being sidelined last week against the Bears with a sprained left knee.
Ngata tackled running back Chris Ivory for no gain during the Jets' opening drive, his lone stop. He didn't appear to suffer any setbacks.
Defensive end Chris Canty briefly left the game with an undisclosed injury, going to the locker room to be examined before returning.
"We don't talk about injuries around here," Canty said. "The only thing that's important is I went back in the game. I felt fine."
Rookie safety Brynden Trawick suffered a high-ankle sprain and didn't return.
Tight end Ed Dickson had a season-high 55 receiving yards on three catches, including a 27-yard reception. ... The Ravens have at least two sacks in 19 games in a row going back to last season, tying the Philadelphia Eagles (2003, 2004) for the NFL's longest streak since 1990. The Ravens tied a franchise record originally established during the 2000 and 2001 seasons. … Wide receiver Brandon Stokley played for the first time since the third game, returning from a recurring groin injury. He caught one pass for seven yards. … The Ravens scratched cornerback Asa Jackson, safety Omar Brown, running back Bernard Scott, wide receiver Deonte Thompson, linebacker John Simon and defensive tackle Brandon Williams. … The Ravens honored retired left tackle Jonathan Ogden with a halftime tribute, which included the presentation of his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring. "I wanted to thank everyone in Baltimore for supporting me all these years," Ogden said. "I wanted to win for you guys and share this moment with you guys."
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