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Gosselin: Jets' interception not Quincy's fault

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    Rick Gosselin: Jets' interception not Quincy's fault


    02:51 AM CST on Monday, November 15, 2004



    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The book on Quincy Carter is to minimize his touches. If he's your quarterback, do not let him make the negative plays that beat his team. Keep the ball out of his hands at critical points in games.

    Ironically, the one play New York took the ball out of Carter's hands Sunday was the one play the Jets should have left it there.

    Lamont Jordan threw an interception on a halfback option pass in the closing minutes of the first half, igniting a Baltimore comeback from a 14-point deficit that would produce a 20-17 overtime victory over the Jets.

    Carter's penchant for turnovers was a key reason he is no longer the quarterback of the Cowboys. Bill Parcells struggles with players who beat themselves – and he had a tough time living with Carter's turnovers in 2003.

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    Carter ranked third in the NFL in interceptions (21) and ninth in fumbles (10), but the Cowboys overcame his negative plays to finish 10-6 and qualify for the playoffs.

    Nonetheless, Parcells cut Carter last summer during the opening week of training camp, and he resurfaced this season as the Jets' backup quarterback.

    A strained rotator cuff suffered by Chad Pennington forced Carter onto the field this month, and he drew his first post-Dallas start against the Ravens.

    Carter was superb in the early going, completing his first seven passes for 128 yards to help stake the Jets at a quick and stunning 14-0 lead against the most formidable defense in the NFL.

    His best pass was a 47-yard bomb to Santana Moss, which moved the Jets to the Baltimore 17 at the two-minute warning of the first half. A sellout crowd of 77,826 anticipated the Jets taking a 21-0 halftime lead or, at worst, 17-0. What a start for the Quincy Carter Era in New York.

    But on the next play, the Jets called that ill-fated halfback pass. The Ravens strung Jordan out to the sideline and also had his pass option covered in the secondary. So Jordan had nowhere to run, nowhere to throw.

    But instead of running out of bounds – or throwing the ball out of bounds, which was a legal option – Jordan tried to heave it out of the back of the end zone. Unfortunately, he didn't have enough arm.

    Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed intercepted and ran it back 104 yards for an apparent touchdown. But a holding call against the Ravens nullified the score and left Baltimore at the New York 36.

    Six plays later, the Ravens cut the deficit to 14-7 on a short touchdown pass from Kyle Boller to Clarence Moore with 40 seconds left in the half. That deflated the Meadowlands, shifting the momentum of the game away from the home team to the Ravens.

    The Jets managed only five more first downs the rest of the day and three more points – a 20-yard field goal by Doug Brien in the final seconds of regulation that tied the score at 17 and forced overtime. But the Ravens won on a 42-yard field goal by Matt Stover.

    Jordan's interception was the only offensive turnover of the game by either team – and it came on the only non-Carter pass by the Jets.

    "It was an option," Jets coach Herman Edwards said. "If the guy is covered, then you can run it. You tuck it and go. The worst thing that could possibly happen happened."

    Rule of thumb when you're ahead – don't get cute. Let the passers pass, the runners run and the receivers catch. If you've got a hot quarterback – and 7-of-7 for 128 yards certainly constituted hot – let him do the throwing.

    Carter played well enough to win his first AFC start. He completed his first six passes to six receivers. He produced 10 of New York's 16 first downs in the game, nine with his arm and a 10th with his legs.

    Carter finished the day 13-of-22 passing for 175 yards with no touchdowns. He was sacked five times but did not fumble, and he offset those sacks with five scrambles for 22 yards.

    "For the most part, he played OK for his first game against a defense like that," Edwards said.

    But OK wasn't good enough on this day. Not for Carter, not for the Jets.

    E-mail rgosselin@dallasnews.com

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