However, everything went awry as the Baltimore Ravens' veteran quarterback hesitated a split-second too long and uncorked a critical interception during a 15-6 loss Saturday to the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC divisional playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium.
McNair never saw safety Antoine Bethea until it was too late with the defensive back picking him off at the 1-yard line in the second quarter. The turnover, which was the first of McNair's two intereceptions, was extremely deflating to the Ravens' cause.
"It's a play we knew that would work," McNair said. "On the squeeze play, Todd actually beat his man. Once he went to the left, I just reacted and didn't see the guy on the backside. We didn't make the play and that's something that you can't do regardless of them making good plays or not.
"You can't turn the ball over as many times as we did in the playoffs and expect to win, especially against a good, solid team like Indianapolis. .. It's very heartbreaking. Do I feel badly? Of course, I do. I feel badly at the loss. I feel badly at the way I played. I feel bad that we didn't execute offensively and didn't take advantage of what they gave us."
Trailing 6-3 and threatening to take the lead in the second quarter on a 3rd-and-goal at the Colts' 4-yard line, the lost red-zone opportunity squandered the Ravens' best chance to score a touchdown.
Heap is the Ravens' best goal-line option in most cases because of his size, speed, leaping ability and crisp routes. However, defenses are well aware of the team's tendency to look his way in red-zone situations.
"Really good play by the safety," Heap said. "I was trying to find a hole in front of the linebackers. We had all of our guys offensively spread out across the field pretty good. The guy made a good play. He kind of came off the guy he was supposed to be covering and made a good play."
The Colts went on to score on an 51-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal, his third of the game, as Baltimore fell behind 9-3 in what wound up being the decisive score since all the Ravens' offense wound up producing was two Matt Stover field goals.
"You just can't do it," Ravens coach Brian Billick said of McNair's interception. "Obviously, very disappointing at that point in the game to not come away with the touchdown and change the temperament of the game and we didn't."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.
McNair's mistake proves costly
Ravens Insider Top Stories
Jon Ledyard's All-22 Review: Ravens-SteelersAnalysis of coach's tape updates play of Villanueva, Foster, finds surprise on the DL, deconstructs the 'Immaculate Extension,' and much more.
Steel City Insider12/28/2016
Dolphins A No-Show Against RavensHad Sunday's game been the first round of the playoffs for the Miami Dolphins, they would have been sent home by the Baltimore Ravens.
Week 13: Snaps Impact & Target AnalysisLearn more about how many snaps and targets were had by some key Fantasy players as we push toward the last week of the Fantasy regular season.
4 teams have more than $20M in carryoverThe NFL Players Association released the amount of salary-cap dollars each team can carry over into their 2017 salary cap, with four teams having more than $20 million and five…
Scout NFL NetworkWednesday at 10:01 AM