Three was the magic number in Baltimore on Sunday night.
The Ravens, in a bizarre Sunday night game, recorded three defensive touchdowns in a 34-17 win over the Jets. It was the first time the franchise ever recorded a hat trick on defense.
The defensive explosion started on the Jets’ first offensive play of the game in the first quarter. Safety Ed Reed came untouched on a blitz, sacking Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and forcing a fumble. Linebacker Jameel McClain scooped the ball up and ran it in for a touchdown.
“It was a good play — a team play,” McClain said. “I needed that. It’s my first touchdown (ever in) the regular season. It was great.”
Baltimore’s second defensive score came in the second quarter, with the Ravens leading 20-7. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata hit Sanchez from his blind side, which forced a fumble that bounced forward. Linebacker Jarret Johnson grabbed it and ran it in for a touchdown. The play looked like an incomplete pass but was upheld after an official review.
“I just saw the ball bounce in front of me,” Johnson said. “I just grabbed it and took off running. Haloti made a huge play and I got to reap the rewards of what Haloti did.”
Down 27-7, the Jets answered when linebacker David Harris picked off quarterback Joe Flacco and ran it back for a touchdown. Kicker Nick Folk added a field goal to cut Baltimore’s lead to 27-17 at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Jets appeared to be gaining some momentum back as linebacker Aaron Maybin sacked and forced a fumble from Flacco, which New York recovered. But on the next play, Sanchez threw an interception to cornerback Lardarius Webb, who took the ball 73 yards for a touchdown.
“Mine was unexplainable,” Webb said. “You know they had just turned the ball over. We turned the ball over. We needed a big play. We just needed to keep them out of the end zone.”
In addition to the three defensive touchdowns the Ravens had, and the one from the Jets, the Jets also had a 107-yard kickoff return from running back Joe McKnight in the first quarter. This was the longest play in Jets history and the longest play the Ravens have ever given up.
The combined five returned touchdowns is an NFL record.
“It was the best defensive performance I thought I’d ever seen,” coach John Harbaugh said. “And the most amazing defensive performance I thought I’d seen was the Pittsburgh game with the seven turnovers against that offense. But this topped it.”
By Jason Butt