Unfortunately for Clemens and the New York Jets, 15 minutes of outstanding play weren't enough to overcome the horrid three quarters that preceded it.
Backup Kyle Boller threw for 185 yards and two touchdowns Sunday, and the Ravens overcame a late charge by Clemens and the Jets in a 20-13 win.
Clemens cut a 20-3 deficit to seven points in the fourth quarter and took the Jets (0-2) to the Baltimore 7 before Ray Lewis intercepted a deflected pass in the end zone with 1:04 left to preserve the win.
"Nothing's ever easy for us," Lewis said. "In this league, I've learned that when you get someone down, you have to put them away. But the bottom line is that we won. No ifs ands or buts. We won."
Clemens replaced Chad Pennington, who injured his right ankle in the opener against New England. Although coach Eric Mangini's final decision on his starter didn't come until Sunday, Clemens spoke excitedly during the week about the prospect of running the New York offense.
He faced a blitzing defense that ranked No. 1 in the NFL last year.
"They were everything that they were chopped up to be, that's for sure," Clemens said. "They're very talented, they made a lot of plays. They held us pretty much in check for most of the game."
Playing in his third game since being selected in the second round of the 2006 draft, Clemens was 9-for-18 for 84 yards through three quarters. Over the final 15 minutes, he was 10-for-19 for 176 yards and a touchdown.
"We needed to score quickly, so we went to the no-huddle and we were fortunate to make some plays," Clemens said. "We threw the football and it got us back into the game."
It was 20-13 when a 50-yard completion got the Jets to the Baltimore 20 just before the two-minute warning. Justin McCareins dropped a potential touchdown pass at the 5 with 1:55 left, and three plays later, Clemens was short on a pass to Laveranues Coles in the end zone.
Lewis' interception came on a pass that glanced off McCareins' hands.
"It was crazy," Ravens linebacker Bart Scott said. "Those guys helped us out by dropping balls."
Boller replaced Steve McNair, who hurt his groin in Baltimore's season-opening loss to Cincinnati. It was Boller's first start since 2005, but the 35th in a career that began in 2003.
"I think we did good things: I moved the ball, got some points on the board," Boller said. "I've got to give a lot of credit to my offensive line. I don't think I got hit one time. They did a great job up front, (allowing) me to step into my throws. That was huge."
Clemens' first pass was incomplete, the second picked off. He produced his initial first down on New York's third series, when he went 3-for-4 to set up a 50-yard field goal by Mike Nugent to make it 7-3.
New York didn't score again until Nugent kicked a 21-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 20-6 with 10:05 left. Clemens finally got the Jets into the end zone with his first NFL touchdown pass, a 3-yarder to Chris Baker with 3:12 to go.
The Jets defense stiffened late, too.
"I wish we could have played that well throughout the entire game," linebacker Victor Hobson said. "We were getting the offense the ball back and they were doing what they do."
Thomas Jones gained 67 yards rushing for the Jets, who had only 107 yards in offense through the first three quarters but finished with 304.
In the first half, Boller had a 110.6 quarterback rating and Clemens was at 19.4 after going 4-for-9 for 43 yards and an interception.
Baltimore went up 7-0 on McGahee's first NFL touchdown catch, a 2-yarder. It was 7-3 before Ravens rookie Yamon Figurs, playing for the injured B.J. Sams, returned a kickoff 61 yards to set up a field goal by Matt Stover.
Baltimore made it 17-3 when Boller connected with Heap on a 4-yard TD pass with six seconds left in the first half. Heap was initially called out of bounds, but a replay showed he got both feet down in the left side of the end zone.
Baltimore played without offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (toe) and lost standout defensive end Trevor Pryce (broken wrist) in the third quarter. ... New York's Jerricho Cotchery had 165 yards on seven catches.