FOXBOROUGH, Mass - One thing that no one will remember in the coming days, weeks and months is that Lee Evans played a pretty darn good football game today.
Evans, the veteran receiver who missed seven games this season because of an ankle injury and recorded only four grabs all regular season, had three catches for 39 yards. That included a crucial 13-yard reception that converted a long third down and led to a touchdown midway through the third quarter.
But no one will remember the three catches that Evans did make. They'll remember the one he didn't.
Evans had a potential game-winning touchdown pass get slapped out of his hands by Patriots safety Sterling Moore with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter, leaving the Ravens in need of a game-tying field goal from Billy Cundiff. We know what happened from there.
After the game, an emotional Evans took the blame for the play, even though many might feel that he was merely defended well by Moore.
"To be honest with you, I couldn't even tell you what happened," Evans said. "I feel like I had it, but it came out. I don't know how to put it into words. Honestly, it's the most disappointing part of all of this that I feel personally that I let everybody down. This is the greatest team I've been on. I let everybody down.
"It's on my shoulders. I think Ray Lewis gave a good message coming in here. It's hard to accept how and why things happen, but it's the reality. It's just tough to accept."
After speaking with a group of reporters, Evans sat at his locker with his head in his hands. All around him, his teammates packed up their things and slowly trudged out of a quiet visitor's locker room.
Fellow wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith came over to give Evans a pat on the back and some words of encouragement.
It was a stark contrast to the scene just as Evans appeared to have the game-winning score in his hands, as Ravens players both on the sideline and the field started celebrating, thinking they had taken a late lead. Linebacker Ray Lewis was one of the players to leap in the air when the ball hit Evans' hands.
"If you wasn't celebrating, you aren't no Ravens fan," Lewis said.
"I threw my hands up and started running (toward the sideline)," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "And then I saw the referee give the incomplete sign pretty quick."
Some Ravens felt that officials should have reviewed the play, as it looked like Evans might have gotten both feet down with possession of the ball before Moore was able to swat it away.
"I thought it would be looked at," head coach John Harbaugh said. "I was surprised they didn't. Obviously in that situation, I thought they would look at it. They didn't."
The NFL league office apparently doesn't believe that a review was necessary on the play.
"The ruling on the field of an incomplete pass was confirmed by the Instant Replay assistant, correctly, and as a result, there was no need to stop the game," the league said in an email sent to ProFootballTalk. "The receiver did not get his second foot down in the endzone with possession, and as a result, it was an incomplete pass."
Ravens fans might remember the near touchdown for a while, and you have to believe that the play will be bouncing around in Evans' mind for a while, as well.
"It hit me right where you would want to be hit," Evans said. "It was a great pass by Joe and a play not completed by me. Nobody else can take the fault."