As I was walking out of the new Meadowlands Stadium last night, I asked myself a question.
Yes, I was that guy talking to myself as I walked alone out of a football stadium. Don't judge me.
That question was: Would the Ravens have won their game against the Jets if Anquan Boldin had not been in a purple jersey?
The answer that I came up with: Nope, no way.
Boldin was acquired this offseason to provide a physical, big-play presence to the Ravens' passing game, and he did just that last night. The eight-year veteran made seven tough catches for 110 yards on the night, and in a game where first downs and field position were so huge, he played a pivotal role in keeping the Ravens' offense on the field and leaving the Jets in a tough spot when they eventually did get possession.
"Anquan's just a big, physical guy who goes up for the ball," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "They're going to play you one-on-one, and you've kinda got to go away from the safety and give your guy a chance to go get the ball, and we did that today."
Boldin's two biggest catches on the night came early in the third quarter with the Ravens holding a slim 7-6 lead. On a third-and-seven from the Baltimore 11-yard-line, Boldin found some space deep down the right sideline and brought in a Joe Flacco pass for 38 yards and a huge Ravens first down.
Three plays later, Boldin made another money grab, this time pinned against the left sideline. He elevated over Jets cornerback Kyle Wilson, brought in a slightly underthrown pass from Flacco, and got both feet in bounds for a 27-yard gain.
Those two catches accounted for 65 of the Ravens' 85 yards on that drive, a drive which resulted in the eventual game-winning field goal.
"Those were huge, huge catches that Anquan made," tight end Todd Heap said. "You can really see his strength and his ability to overpower guys. That was just a small sample of what we've seen all offseason and all training camp, so we're definitely looking forward to a lot more of that this season. Those are big plays when you need them."
In typical Boldin fashion, he shied away from questions about his personal performance, and shifted the attention to the wide receiving corps as a whole.
"It's not just about me," Boldin said. "We have a group of receivers that are going to be tough to defend. I don't think there is any team in this league that can match up with our three wide receivers. We have three number one receivers on the field."
Asked about Boldin's seven-catch night after the game, head coach John Harbaugh smiled.
"I didn't realize it was that many," Harbaugh said.
He might want to get used to it. Boldin looks just like the big-play guy the Ravens were hoping he'd be.