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Marty Mornhinweg takes blame for ill-timed timeout

Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg looks on during

Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg looks on during the first half of the Oakland Raiders at New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Friday Sept. 7, 2014. Credit: Lee S. Weissman

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - In the aftermath of the chaos, Marty Mornhinweg learned a valuable lesson.

The Jets offensive coordinator not only has to do a better job of communicating on the sideline, he has to trust that his players know what they're doing on the field.

Less than 24 hours after Sunday's deflating 31-24 loss in Green Bay, Mornhinweg shouldered the blame for the ill-fated timeout call that negated a potential tying touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

On fourth-and-4, Geno Smith connected with slot receiver Jeremy Kerley in the end zone for an apparent 36-yard score. The play was blown dead, however, because Mornhinweg initially signaled for a timeout before the ball was snapped with 5:06 remaining.

"I called a play, liked the play. It looked like we were aligned improperly, doggone it,'' Mornhinweg said, adding that he had tried unsuccessfully to get the attention of Rex Ryan, who was on the defensive headset channel.

Then Mornhinweg changed his mind because "Geno fixed the problem, clearly fixed the problem. We're good.''

But unbeknownst to the coaches, Sheldon Richardson had gotten an official's attention for them. After the defensive tackle, standing near the sideline, heard Mornhinweg yelling for a timeout, he whispered in the official's ear to stop the play.

"I want to make it crystal- clear,'' Mornhinweg said, "everything that goes on offensively is my responsibility. Period. So I've got to do a better job of communicating. And then trusting Big Geno. I've got to trust Geno to get everything fixed before the 40-second clock [expires].''

Mornhinweg did say, however, that the entire team was surprised that the referee granted the timeout.

NFL rules stipulate that only the head coach or a player on the field can call time. But because the timeout call came so close to the snap, the official's call was correct, according to NFL spokesman Michael Signora.

In placing the blame squarely on his own shoulders, Mornhinweg absolved Richardson.

"Sheldon needs to take no accountability for that,'' Mornhinweg said. "He was only trying to help. It's just that simple.

" . . . Lookit, when you're really good, those players take it and run with it, and that's what I'm looking for. And I've got to be able to allow that to happen.''

Ryan wouldn't delve into what specifically was said on the sideline, "but I think to Sheldon's credit, to everybody's, really, we just want to win,'' he said. "I think you are caught up in it and if you think you can help, you react like that.''

The sideline confusion spilled into the locker room, where stunned Jets tried to make sense of their blown 18-point lead over the Packers and the touchdown that wasn't.

"If it had happened opposite, where it was an incomplete pass and they called timeout, everyone would be praising and thanking him,'' David Nelson said. "You can't foresee that.''

Added Eric Decker: "Obviously, you're going to be like, 'Well, I wish we didn't call the timeout.' But there's a reason why they did call a timeout. And there's opportunities to be had and we came up short.''

In hindsight, what would Mornhinweg have done differently?

"I would trust Geno to fix it,'' he said. "It's as simple as that.''

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