Matt Stover's 42-yard field goal midway through the first overtime period lifted the Ravens to a 20-17 victory Sunday at the Meadowlands -- in what is arguably the most devastating setback of the Jets season. The loss, Gang Green's second in a row and third in four games, drops them to 6-3 and spoiled the starting debut of quarterback Quincy Carter, subbing for the injured Chad Pennington.
Carter completed 13-of-22 passes for 175 yards, highlighted by an eye-opening first half in which he was 8-for-8 in compiling a quarterback rating of 118.8. He had his troubles with inaccuracy in the final two quarters, however, completing only 5-of-14 passes for 43 yards.
Gang Green tossed away a golden opportunity late in the first half to put the offensively challenged Ravens in a hole. Leading 14-0 following Curtis Martin's second-quarter TD runs of 1 and 9 yards, Carter hooked up with Santana Moss on a 47-yard pass to the Baltimore 17 at the two-minute warning.
But on the next play LaMont Jordan's ill-advised option pass in the end zone was intercepted by Baltimore safety Ed Reed, who returned it for an apparent 104-yard TD that was called back because of a holding penalty on Baltimore's Will Demps. Last week, Reed's 106-yard interception return against the Cleveland Browns established an NFL record.
"We are up 14-0, we just had a big play, and we are going in to score," Jordan lamented after the game. "Then I threw an interception. They got the momentum back and we just never got the momentum back."
Baltimore capitalized on the turnover. Quarterback Kyle Boller directed a 64-yard drive, capped by his 6-yard scoring pass to a leaping Clarence Moore with 0:46 left in the first half, to cut the Jets' lead to 14-7.
The Jets wouldn't score again until late in the final period.
Stover's 24-yard FG brought the Ravens to within 14-10 in the third quarter, and the visitors finally took the lead, 17-14, on Boller's 16-yard pass to Moore with 4:20 remaining in the fourth quarter.
That's when the Jets' problems with clock management reappeared like an unwelcome apparition.
Gang Green began the final drive of regulation at their 45-yard line with 4:13 left. Carter converted a third down with a 14-yard completion to Justin McCairens and Martin scampered 21 yards to the Baltimore 17 at the two-minute warning. Carter's 9-yard draw, again on third down, gave the Jets a first-and-goal at the Ravens' 4 with 50 seconds left in regulation.
Seemingly, plenty of time was left for the go-ahead touchdown. But the clock was ticking – and it kept ticking for 32 seconds, although the Jets still had two time outs remaining. At 0:18, they finally ran another play.
After the game, Carter put the blame on himself for the time lapse – although there seemed to be an all-around communications breakdown extending to the Jets sidelines and all the way upstairs to the coaches box.
The Jets called their first timeout of the drive with 0:14 left after Jordan gained one yard on a run to the Baltimore 3. Carter threw an incomplete pass on the next play – and Edwards called the final time out with 0:08.
Although it was only third down, kicker Doug Brien trotted onto the field. Brien booted a 20-yard field goal to tie the score at 20-20 – but Gang Green's special teams exited to a loud cacophony of boos from the disbelieving sellout crowd of 77,826.
The Jets won the toss in OT but went three-and-out on their two possessions. On Baltimore's second drive of the extra quarter, Boller completed passes of 21 yards to Kevin Johnson and 10 yards to Travis Taylor – the latter a bulls-eye between Jets cornerback Donnie Abraham and safety Reggie Tongue – to set up Stover's game-winning field goal.
The loss also put to waste the accomplishment of a prime goal the Jets had set for beating the Ravens. An outstanding run defense, anchored by defensive end John Abraham (with a team-leading nine tackles), limited running back Jamal Lewis to only 71 of Baltimore's 76 rushing yards. In the Jets' two prior losses, opposing backs (New England's Corey Dillon and Buffalo's Willis McGahee) had rushed for more than 100 yards.
Martin, meanwhile, again hit the century mark, rushing for 119 yards on 28 carries (4.3 average).