It could have been a game-changer. But Holmes dropped the sure touchdown pass with 4:37 left in the first half and the Jets never sniffed the end zone again, extending their offensive touchdown drought to nine quarters.
"There is no explanation for it," said Holmes, who appeared to take his eye off the ball. "It happened. Inexcusable. No excuses. Dropped the ball. Simple as that."
In his first Jets season, Holmes has made too many big plays to count, starting with drawing a 46-yard pass- interference penalty with 1:26 left in the Jets' 24-20 win over the Broncos on Oct. 17, just his second game back from a season-opening four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.
Holmes set up the winning field goal in overtime in Detroit. He scored the winning touchdown in overtime in Cleveland. He caught another winner the next week against Houston at home - almost exactly in the same spot where he dropped yesterday's TD.
He's bailed out his offense so many times with clutch plays that it was a shock to see him drop a gimme. But this time Holmes did not come through to save the Jets.
"I should have caught the ball for a touchdown and I didn't,'' he said. "I don't have no excuses. I dropped the ball. I'll make up for it next time."
Holmes did make a spectacular diving catch for 42 yards in the fourth quarter, but that led only to a field goal when the Jets needed a touchdown.
Even though the offense is spiraling downward, Holmes isn't despairing. "We've been there before," he said. "We've been down. We still got three more games to play. Can't give up on ourselves. The only guys that can correct the mistakes are the guys in this room right now. Can't look for answers anywhere else."
Targeted nine times, Holmes had a season-low two catches, but he surely would have been happy with one, had it been a TD. It was a third-and-10 play from the Miami 17 and Holmes easily shook his defender on a rare pinpoint throw by Sanchez, but the ball wound up on the turf and the Jets settled for a field goal to make it 10-3.
Holmes will have the spotlight back on him this week as the Jets prepare for Pittsburgh, his old stamping grounds. He said he wasn't thinking about the Steelers at all. Then again, his mind may have been stuck on the one that got away.