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Carney misses wide right; Saints eliminated

12/22/2003

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The only thing missing was the band
... and the extra point.

The New Orleans Saints scored a 75-yard touchdown on one of the
wackiest plays in NFL history Sunday, then -- just as unbelievably --
John Carney missed the PAT with no time left.

The result was a 20-19 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars that
dropped the Saints out of the playoff race. It will surely go down
as one of the most twisted, cruel moments in the 37-year history of
the star-struck franchise.

Question on the Saints: Have you ever seen a crazier ending to an NFL game?
What an unbelievable finish to this game! It always seems to be one thing or another with the Saints. They seem to always be in games and find a way to lose. It'll be very interesting to see how they bounce back from this stunning loss.

Question on the Jaguars: How has Jack Del Rio gotten this team to play so well down the stretch?
Del Rio has gotten his team prepared to win by preaching consistency. Also this team realizes it's playing for the future because it knows its quarterback, running back and wide receivers are all set for the future. When a team knows who's going to play those key positions, it's easier for it to keep playing hard even when there seems to be no hope in the current season.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

"This seems to be, as far as kickers are concerned, as bad as
it gets," Carney said.

The Saints (7-8), coming off Joe Horn's cell phone shenanigans
last week, looked like they had a play, a moment, to put that whole
episode behind them. Instead, they'll have the whole offseason to
wonder about what might have been.

"This is awful," said Saints receiver Michael Lewis, who was
in on the play. "I can't explain how it feels to go from one
emotion to the other."

With six seconds left and the Saints trailing 20-13, Aaron
Brooks passed to Donte' Stallworth, who flipped the ball to Lewis.
He pitched back to Deuce McAllister, who lateraled to Jerome
Pathon, who went the final 21 yards and dove in for the score.

"The only thing missing was the band," Jaguars coach Jack Del
Rio said, recalling the ending of the famous 1982 Stanford-Cal
game, a play that looked eerily similar to this.

A long video review ensued, and after referee Gerry Austin
determined all the passes were legal laterals, the teams lined up
for the extra point.

Routine?

Not today.

Carney, 403-for-408 on extra points over his 14-year career and
35-for-35 this season, hit a dead push, sailing the kick wide
right. He stared at the ground in disbelief when it was over.
Saints coach Jim Haslett squinted into the sun -- yes, that really
did happen.

Earlier this season, Haslett said he trusted Carney so
completely, he would stake his life on him. Reminded of that
statement Sunday, the coach said, "Then, I'd probably be dead
right now. He's one of the great all-time kickers. I never would
have guessed this would happen."

After the miss, the Jaguars (5-10) jumped up and down like they
had just won the Super Bowl.

All they really did, though, was improve to 5-3 at home -- their
first winning record at Alltel since 1999 -- and give Mark Brunell a
nice sendaway in his final home game with Jacksonville.

And really, Carney's push will only go down as the second most
shocking miss in the nine-year history of the Jaguars. In the final
game of the 1996 season, Morten Andersen missed a 30-yard
field-goal attempt with four seconds left to help Jacksonville hold
onto a 19-17 win over Atlanta. That miss sent the Jaguars into the
playoffs, an unlikely run that ended in the AFC title game.

More fresh in the Jaguars' minds was a desperation pass the
Cleveland Browns completed last year for a touchdown with no time
left. The extra point there gave the Browns a 21-20 win.

"I had a flashback to Cleveland last year," Jaguars receiver
Jimmy Smith said. "That's just another example that you have to
keep playing until the clock hits zero."

And sometimes even beyond.

That the Saints had a chance in this game was surprising, given
the domination by Jacksonville.

Horn, who had four touchdowns last week, caught only two passes
for 39 yards, and wasn't on the field for the final play, due to a
shoulder injury. New Orleans allowed Fred Taylor to run for a
season-high 194 yards. Still, when the clock hit :00, the Saints
were only one wacky play away from tying things up.

Stallworth caught the ball at the 50, slipped three tackles and
flipped a lateral over to Lewis at the Jaguars 33. Of the three
laterals, that one looked the most like a forward pass -- think
Music City Miracle -- but Austin ruled the pass hadn't gone forward.

"It was definitely a lateral, backward pass," Austin said.

Lewis ran a few yards, then turned backward and flipped to
McAllister, who saw Pathon in the middle of the field and threw the
ball to him. With the help of a block by Brooks, who was moving
downfield with the play, Pathon went the final 21 yards untouched
and dove into end zone.

Carney, meanwhile, was on ice for about two minutes while the
review was conducted. Punter Mitch Berger gave him an out, saying
his hold wasn't very good. But the kicker was making no excuses.

"I just came out of the kick early and pushed it," Carney
said. "I was prepared. I was ready to get back in the game."<

Notes: With 34 carries for 194 yards, Taylor set the franchise
records for both carries (323) and rushing yards (1,451) ...
Jaguars DE Tony Brackens left the game with an injured knee. ...
McAllister ran for 50 yards and needs 82 more yards to break George
Rogers' franchise record for yards in a season.