As smart a play as Brandon Marshall made in the Jets' opener when he stripped the ball from a Cleveland defensive back after an interception, his lateral-turned-fumble in the Jets' 24-17 loss to the Eagles Sunday at MetLife Stadium was at the other end of the intelligence spectrum.
Marshall knew it, and he owned it along with a tipped-ball interception that also was part of a four-turnover day for a Jets offense playing shorthanded without starting running back Chris Ivory and starting wide receiver Eric Decker.
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Marshall's numbers -- 10 catches for 109 yards and one touchdown and reaching the 10,000-yard career receiving plateau -- were great, but he focused on the scoreboard.
"I played like crap today, to be honest with you," Marshall said.
Marshall's most glaring error came in the second quarter with the Jets trailing 17-0, with only one first down on offense. He caught a 15-yard pass at the Jets' 43, and, while being tackled, tried to flip the ball to tight end Jeff Cumberland. Instead, it hit the Eagles' Connor Barwin in the helmet before linebacker Jordan Hicks scooped it and ran to the Jets' 36. The Eagles quickly tacked on a 1-yard TD run by Darren Sproles for a 24-0 advantage.
"Oh my gosh, I was waiting for that one," Marshall said when the subject was raised after the game. "Wrong time to gamble. I was pressing, trying to make a play, but you can't do that. I mean, that was probably the worst play in NFL history.
"I saw Cumberland just sitting there, and I waited too late to do it if I was going to do it. But you can't do that. I mean, that's backyard football. It's a bonehead play . . . The damage outweighs the reward so much."
Describing the final turnover in the fourth quarter, an interception thrown by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick that bounced off Marshall's hands to Eagles safety Walter Thurmond at the Philadelphia 18-yard line, he said: "I thought the safety was right there, so I tried to catch it really quick and bring it in and short-armed it and gave up a pick. So that's on me."
During an interview last week on SiriusXM Radio, Marshall suggested he doesn't receive as much attention as he deserves for his accomplishments. When he brought the wrong kind of attention to himself, he did all he could to atone.
It was Marshall on the receiving end of a 16-yard pass from Fitzpatrick just before halftime. And Marshall also became the first Jets wideout with back-to-back 100-yard receiving games since Laveranues Coles in 2006.
On a day when Ivory did not have a carry and Decker was out with an injury, Marshall was the heart of the offense the Jets mustered. Explaining the slow start, he said: "I look at myself. I wasn't getting open. I wasn't making a play, and that puts our offense in a bind because I think everyone knows I'm a guy where a lot of offense is going to go through.
"So if I'm not getting open and making my play, that's going to hurt us, and that's what happened."
Had the Jets won, Marshall would have been pleased to celebrate his 10,000-yard milestone, but he knew that wasn't the story on this day. With a smile, he said: "I did some good stuff, but then it's like 'pitch the ball back? What is that?' "