Ryan Fitzpatrick, defense fuel New York Jets past Baltimore Ravens

Jerry Beach, The Sports Xchange
New York Jets' Ryan Fitzpatrick applauds in the huddle in the 4th quarter against the Baltimore Ravens in week 7 of the NFL at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on October 23, 2016. The Jets defeated the Ravens 24-16. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
New York Jets' Ryan Fitzpatrick applauds in the huddle in the 4th quarter against the Baltimore Ravens in week 7 of the NFL at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on October 23, 2016. The Jets defeated the Ravens 24-16. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick -- a pair of past, possibly present but almost certainly not future New York Jets quarterbacks - sat at the far end of a busy locker room Sunday afternoon.

They leaned into the vacant locker of injured third-string quarterback Bryce Petty to hear each other speak following a victory that both saved the Jets' season while making it even murkier.


Fitzpatrick, who lost his starting job earlier this week, played efficiently in relief of an injured Smith Sunday afternoon, when a pair of third-quarter interceptions led to 10 decisive points as New York snapped a four-game losing streak with a 24-16 win over the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium.

"Great effort by our defense, turnovers were awesome," Fitzpatrick said. "Wasn't a high-powered, explosive offense, but we got the job done. It's just nice to be in the locker room with a good feeling. I think that's important for us to recapture that feeling and hopefully now we get some momentum going forward."

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The needed victory by the Jets (2-5) raised a pair of interesting questions: Which of New York's impending free-agent quarterbacks will be the starter going forward, and will he be directing a team that harbors legitimate hope of entering the playoff race?

Smith, who started 29 games in his first two seasons but lost his job following a locker room fight with ex-teammate IK Enemkpali last August, was steady on Sunday (4-of-8 for 95 yards and a 69-yard touchdown to Quincy Enunwa). Then, he was injured while being sacked by Matthew Judon with eight minutes left in the first half.

Smith almost immediately headed to the locker room and returned for the second half in street clothes, though he appeared to be walking without a limp following the game.

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"Just tried to get away from a sack, (Judon) was able to get a hold of me," Smith said. "Something just felt funny when I got up. I don't think it'll be anything too damaging, but we'll see."

Fitzpatrick threw a team-record 31 touchdowns last season but lost his job after tossing 10 interceptions over the previous four weeks. He directed the Jets to 17 points on Sunday and finished 9 of 14 for 120 yards and one touchdown, a 13-yard strike to Matt Forte.


"I don't know what decision they're going to make or what Geno's health is going to be," Fitzpatrick said. "I think I should start every week."

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But the bulk of the heavy lifting was done by Forte, who accounted for 116 of his 154 all-purpose yards after Fitzpatrick entered. Cornerbacks Buster Skrine and Marcus Williams each had a third-quarter interception of Joe Flacco to give New York excellent field position on its final two scoring drives.

Skrine's interception, which he returned to the Ravens' 3-yard-line, led to a 22-yard field goal by Nick Folk while Williams' pick, which he brought back to the Baltimore 24-yard-line, eventually yielded a 1-yard touchdown run by Forte.

"They came up with the big plays in the second half that made the difference," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. "We just didn't."

Head coach Todd Bowles said he wouldn't make a decision on next week's starter until Smith underwent further testing. But Smith conducted his press conference first, which may be an indication he has not lost his job.

Whomever is at the helm will be leading a team that believes it can parlay Sunday's win into an interesting second half. The Jets play just two more games - a pair of match-ups with the New England Patriots - against teams that made the playoffs in 2015.


"I never lost hope," Bowles said. "But we've got to get better one game at a time. We got this one, we've got to get ready for the next one."

The Ravens (3-4) have lost four straight by a total of 19 points. Baltimore has blown leads in each of its last three losses, including 10-0 first-quarter advantages in each of the last two weeks.

"We've jumped out to a lead and we give them an easy touchdown to get back in the game," Harbaugh said. "That's got to be fixed."

Chris Moore recovered a fumble in the end zone by Jets punter Lachlan Edwards less than six minutes into the game for the Ravens' lone touchdown while Justin Tucker booted three field goals. Flacco was 25 of 44 for 248 yards for the Ravens, who finished with a franchise record-low six yards rushing.

NOTES: A moment of silence was held prior to the game in honor of former Jets DL Dennis Byrd, who died in a car accident Oct. 15. His family served as honorary captains for the Jets during the coin flip. ... Jets C Nick Mangold did not return after suffering a right ankle injury in the first quarter. ... The Ravens, who lost to the New York Giants 27-23 at MetLife Stadium last week, are only the fourth team to visit the Jets and Giants on consecutive weeks since the two teams began sharing a stadium in 1984. The Indianapolis Colts (1993), Washington Redskins (1999) and Chicago Bears (2006) also did it.


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