Bill Parcells' quarterback gamble didn't pay off because he had his quarterback gamble with a risky pass.
So risky that it cost the New York Jets what looked to be a certain victory in what has become a lost season.
"You can't take any risk there," Parcells said after untested Ray Lucas, in his first NFL stat, threw a late interception at the Indianapolis goal line that Jeff Burris returned 55 yards. The runback set up Mike Vanderjagt's 27-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining as the Colts beat the Jets 16-13 Sunday.
Parcells has to live with a 1-5 team that lost only four times on its way to the AFC title game last year. He has to live with not relying more on Curtis Martin, who was having his best day of the year. And he has to live with trying Lucas at quarterback because "I thought he could create some things on his own, and he did."
With Martin running five times for 47 yards, the Jets reached the Indianapolis 3. On first down, Parcells had Lucas pass to the left corner to Keyshawn Johnson. Burris cut in front, picked it off and sped to the Jets 45.
"In the huddle, Cornelius (Bennett) said to us, `Let's get a turnover,' " Burris said. "Shortly after, we did. We just wanted to step up in that situation, all of us."
Colts coach Jim Mora wasn't surprised by the call.
"You can't do the same thing over and over," he said. "If they score a touchdown, it's hindsight."
Instead, the Colts used all but 14 seconds to seup Vanderjagt's third field goal. The victory equaled the Colts' total of 1998.
"We were on the sideline talking about our two-minute drill," Peyton Manning said. "We were hoping to be down by only three, but expecting to be down by seven. Fortunately, Jeff and the defense put us in position to win."
Parcells benched Mirer, coming off a poor performance against Jacksonville, and went with Lucas, a third-year pro in his first start at quarterback.
Generally a special teamer, Lucas finished 16-for-30 for 137 yards and sprained his left ankle when he was sacked on the final play. He will be examined again Monday.
"I blew it with the interception," Lucas said.
Helped by Martin, who rushed 23 times for 128 yards, Lucas and the Jets did well early. While the Colts were not converting a first down in the opening period, the Jets got into scoring territory on all three possessions.
After John Hall missed a 43-yard field goal that hit the left upright, he made 45 and 39-yard kicks. The latter was set up by Manning's weak throw that was picked off by safety Victor Green, who returned it 24 yards to the Indianapolis 31.
New York's early domination kept up in the second quarter with a precise 10-play, 71-yard drive. Richie Anderson caught a short sideline pass and eluded Jason Belser's tackle to score an 18-yard touchdown for a 13-0 lead.
But then the Colts came alive. Manning extended the longest active streak of TD passes in the NFL to 18 games with a perfect 22-yarder to Terrence Wilkins to conclude a quick 76-yard assault on which Manning threw for 61 yards.
Manning fired incomplete on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 at the Jets 30 just before halftime, but with New York stumbling on offense the rest of the way including a botched third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 at the Colts 39 Indianapolis took control.
Vanderjagt's 31-yard field goal made it 13-10, and his 18-yarder after New York held on three plays from its 2 tied it.
Dwight Stone's 50-yard kickoff return then set up the Jets at the Indianapolis 49, but Parcells, seemingly forgetting about Martin, had Lucas pass three times. All three were incomplete.
"All I can do is run the play that is called," Martin said. "I'm not a coach. Whatever is called, we feel we should get it done."
Still, the Colts wound up in a hole when Tom Tupa's punt was downed at the 1, and again the Jets took over at midfield after a punt.
This time, New York went with Martin unil it got to the 3, where Parcells' final gamble was a loser.
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