The Jets and Ravens ran 137 plays from scrimmage at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, but one play in particular has served as Week 2's whipping boy for Jets critics and fans.
On second-and-11 at the Baltimore 31, quarterback Kellen Clemens appeared to have hit a wide-open Justin McCareins for what would have put the visiting Jets just a PAT down just after the two-minute warning. Instead, the ball deflected off of the hands of the seventh-year veteran.
"I got one hand on it and just didn't get the other hand up in time," said McCareins. "That was one of the plays I know I can make, and I just didn't get it done when it counted."
Though that play and McCareins will most likely be scrutinized all week and all season, his teammates and coaches are not going to let it affect their trust in the veteran.
"I have a lot of confidence in Justin. I'd throw it to him 100 out of 100 times," Clemens said Monday afternoon. "He's a great player. Sometimes bad things happen. We didn't lose the game on one play and we won't win games in the future on one play. That could get overplayed with Justin."
"No game comes down to one catch. No game comes down to one protection. No game comes down to one play," head coach Eric Mangini said at his Monday afternoon news conference. "It is never one guy. It's a group effort and we all needed to do a better job."
The incompletion wouldn't have been so painful had the Jets not rallied back in the second half. In a dreary first half, the Jets produced just 80 yards while giving up 17 points to the Ravens and backup quarterback Kyle Boller. Basically, the entire team did not produce for 60 minutes, and that is what cost the Jets their second loss in two weeks.
"There were plays throughout the course of the game that we could have executed much better," explained the head coach. "The long kickoff return, the long completion to Heap, the touchdown on third down, right on down the line, there were plenty of them. We need to do a better job throughout the course of the game, not just a half at a time."
According to McCareins' teammates, the play could have happened to anyone and this league proves it week in and week out.
"Watching the film," said center Nick Mangold, "you look at it and you say, 'If I took this step a little better, if I did this a little better, we may have had a better play on that.' "
Fellow veteran receiver Laveranues Coles can attest to that. Just three plays after McCareins' incompletion, Coles missed a deep attempt by Clemens as well.
"We all had opportunities — including myself — to make a play that would change the game," said Coles, who had six catches for 57 yards. "You have to look at yourself and say, 'I could have made the play to change the game and I didn't.' For him to shoulder that, it's not on him."