EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- One month after demolishing the New York Jets in a preseason game that meant nothing except an enormous boost in their confidence, the Ravens head back to the Jersey swamp to revisit the Jets and reclaim the swagger they lost after a most meaningful defeat a week ago.
The Ravens agree that things will not go as smoothly as they did against the Jets on Aug. 15. That day, the Ravens' much-improved defense flexed its muscles by allowing only 148 yards, third-year man Jermaine Lewis burned the Jets with a touchdown pass and a 97-yard punt return, and the Ravens' special teams were stellar in a 33-0 rout.
Today, the 0-1 Ravens are looking to correct the many special-teams breakdowns that marked last week's gut-wrenching, 20-13 loss to Pittsburgh.
They also are bracing for a dangerous Jets team that features Curtis Martin at running back and fifth-year quarterback Glenn Foley, who looked as good in a season-opening, 36-30 overtime defeat in San Francisco as he looked bad in the second half of the Ravens' blowout.
"We got [the Jets] pretty good in the preseason, but this will be different," Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda said. "I think they are a little like us. They need a win to make them believe and to reward all of their hard work."
The Jets need Foley to take another step forward. Showing the poise coach Bill Parcells envisioned when he named him the starter over former Raven Vinny Testaverde, Foley threw for a career-high 415 yards and three touchdowns last week, with only one interception in a whopping 58 attempts.
And remember, Martin, a shifty, creative back, carried 12 times last month. He should get nearly twice that many chances today.
"You've got Martin back there, a guy who, if you give him a seam or a crack, he can make it into a 30- or 40-yard gain," Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa said. "And Foley is a guy who can be dangerous if you let him stand in the pocket. We have to put good pressure on him."
The Ravens' front seven contained Pittsburgh quarterback Kordell Stewart and shut down Jerome Bettis. Against the Jets, their focus will be on forcing Foley into obvious passing downs, then coming after him with an array of blitzes.
Middle linebacker Ray Lewis, the leader of the pack, respects Martin as much as he can't wait to hit him. Lewis, who missed the last two days of practice last week with a pulled hamstring, scoffed at the thought of missing the action.
"I'm going to play if I have a broken leg. Believe me, I'm going to be out there," said Lewis, whom Parcells has called the best middle linebacker in the NFL.
"I like those linebackers, and I'm really impressed with Lewis," Parcells said. "He's like Mike Singletary with more athletic ability. I think the Ravens are on the verge of being a top-quality team, and I really mean that. They've got a lot of things going for them. They present us with a tremendous amount of problems.
"Hey, when you get beat, 33-0, you gain respect. That wasn't a game. That was a mercy killing."
The Ravens' offense spent much of last week killing itself against Pittsburgh. Jermaine Lewis dropped one sure touchdown pass, and his second drop may have prevented another score. Left guard Wally Williams jumped offside twice on third-and-short to ruin promising drives. Matt Stover missed three field-goal attempts.
Unlike the Steelers, who run-blitz constantly out of their 3-4 defense, the Jets play a more stay-home, read-and-react style in their 4-3, which is designed to protect against the big play.
LTC Look for the Ravens to try to exploit the weak side, where the Jets are missing second-year linebacker James Farrior (sprained knee). Chad Cascadden, Dwayne Gordon and Bryan Cox could share time in that spot. And watch Williams.
"I've never jumped offsides twice in one game before. That's a correctable problem. It won't happen again," said Williams, who helped the Ravens rush for 112 yards against Pittsburgh, 72 of them by Errict Rhett.
"Up front, as big and physical as we are, we feel like we should take the game to teams and handle them. We were in a position to win last week, and we didn't take advantage of the opportunity. Winning is the only thing that's going to cure our thirst."
The Ravens do not relish the thought of going to Jacksonville next week in search of their first win against a team that has never lost to them. Can the Ravens afford a loss in Week 2?
"No, we can't," tight end Eric Green said. "This is a crucial game. It's important that we put things on a winning note this week. I was ready to play [on Thursday]. I think this team has that same fire."
Pub Date: 9/13/98