Coach Bill Parcells's quarterback gamble didn't pay off because he had his quarterback gamble with a risky pass.
So risky 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 start, 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, yesterday in East Rutherford, N.J.
"They made a good play. We stalled a couple of times on short yardage. That seemed like a perfect opportunity, but I have to live with that one, too," said Parcells, who benched sputtering Rick Mirer for Lucas.
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.
STEELERS 17, BENGALS 3: Jerome Bettis bowled over tacklers and provided the only semblance of offense by either team, rushing for 114 yards and two touchdowns for visiting Pittsburgh.
Led by Orpheus Roye, the NFL's second-ranked defense made a 14-3 halftime lead stand by stopping Cincinnati (1-5) on the ground and making sure Akili Smith's second start was nothing like his first.
Smith, who pounded his chest at the Browns bench and ran his hand across his throat in a slashing motion after putting together a game-winning drive last Sunday in Cleveland, had nothing to gloat about this time.
Earl Holmes repeatedly traded words with Smith, and Roye twice ran his hand across his throat--once after the rookie took his fifth sack and again after intercepting Smith to end a fourth-quarter drive.
JAGUARS 24, BROWNS 7: Jay Fiedler led sputtering Jacksonville to 17 points in the final 1 1/2 quarters, completing 12 of 14 passes for 113 yards and scrambling three times for 27 yards at home.
As the Jaguars left the field, fans serenaded the fourth-year veteran from Dartmouth with chants of "Fiedler, Fiedler, Fiedler."
Within minutes, Coach Tom Coughlin was answering questions about who the starter would be once Jacksonville returns from a bye week, assuming starter Mark Brunell recovers from the bruised ribs that sidelined him.
"Our situation will not change," Coughlin said. "Hopefully, Mark will be able to rest this week and he'll be ready to go."
TITANS 24, SAINTS 21: Visiting Tennessee (5-1) rallied to win in the second half for the fourth time this season, and New Orleans (1-4) lost a second-half lead for the fourth straight game.
Jason Fisk, a 300-pound defensive tackle, and cornerback Donald Mitchell intercepted passes in the closing minutes to secure the outcome as the Titans continued their best start since 1991, when they opened 7-1 as the Houston Oilers.
The Titans took their first lead on the first series of the fourth quarter, 14-13, when Neil O'Donnell hit Kevin Dyson for an 11-yard touchdown.
EAGLES 20, BEARS 16: It was only two weeks ago Doug Pederson was in danger of losing his job. Now he's the first Philadelphia quarterback to win on the road in 20 games.
Pederson, playing like Brett Favre, a quarterback Eagles Coach Andy Reid tutored in Green Bay, had career highs in completions (16), yards passing (207) and longest pass (57 yards) by halftime.
"Sometimes you've got to put yourself in a tough situation," said Pederson, 2-0 since getting benched at the end of a loss to the New York Giants.