Playing at an opponent's stadium can be difficult. Playing at an opponent's stadium where your last visit ended with a drop of a fourth-down pass in the waning seconds of an eventual loss can be unbearable.
Welcome to Mark Clayton's world.
Sunday's AFC wild-card game between the visiting Ravens and the New England Patriots represents a rematch of the Oct. 4 meeting in which the Patriots escaped with a 27-21 victory.
The game is also a chance for Clayton to cast out any lingering pains surrounding the pass from Joe Flacco that bounced off the "9" on the front of his jersey inside the New England 5 on fourth-and-4 from the 14 with 28 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
But Clayton insisted that he hasn't thought about that play since it happened.
"Not at all - until somebody says something about it," he said Wednesday. "No, I'm just excited because No. 1, it's been a tough season and we're in the playoffs. So it's an opportunity for us to collectively gather everything that we've done - good and bad - and put that away and start fresh with a 0-0 record like everybody else."
If Clayton isn't thinking about the drop, plenty of NFL fans are. The NFL Network and ESPN have constantly replayed the image of Clayton's miscue while promoting Sunday's game.
Coach John Harbaugh didn't take the bait when asked whether Sunday's return represented a shot at redemption for Clayton.
"Hey, you always have second chances," Harbaugh said. "If it were perfect the first time around, it's never that way. There are always things you can improve. All of our guys feel that way about every game."
Clayton said he understands the networks' rationale. He also said he accepts any blame fans might harbor.
"For me, that's the play that lost us the game," he said. "So, no, that doesn't bother me. That's cool."
Clayton said he committed the fundamental sin of not trying to catch the football with his hands, instead guiding the ball to his chest.
"Yeah, I was super shocked," he said. "For a time, [I was in] just disbelief. 'That didn't really just happen, did it?' But it did."
Still, as significant as Clayton's drop was, there were plenty of other plays that could have changed the outcome. From the two controversial roughing-the-passer penalties that led to two Patriots touchdowns to Flacco's intercepted pass inside the red zone with 1:11 left in the second quarter, the Ravens had their chances to avoid having to put Clayton in his situation.
"From the outside looking in, people who don't know the game as well like to put an entire win or loss on one play," said guard Chris Chester, who played three seasons with Clayton at Oklahoma. "Anyone who knows athletics at all knows there's always 50 or 60 other plays that could have made a difference. I know I could've blocked better in that game, and then maybe we wouldn't have been in that position. And Mark knows that. So I don't think stuff like that is going to annoy him."
And the nature of the wide receiver position is such that along with the many passes caught are going to be the few that aren't. Even someone as sure-handed as Derrick Mason - who dropped a pass from Flacco in the end zone in a 23-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 27 - has let a ball fall to the turf.
Fellow wide-out Kelley Washington, who has played with top-tier receivers such as Randy Moss and Chad Ochocinco, said even they have dropped a pass or two.
"Just being around Mark this year, I know that he's a guy who - as soon as he had that drop up there - forgot about it on the plane ride back and was already concentrating on the next week," Washington said. "That's the type of player he is. He prepares really well for the game, studies players. Everybody drops the ball, and that's just the position that we're in. Some are critical situations, and some are just part of the game. He's definitely looked past that, and he's battled through a lot this year and he's made a lot of plays for us."
Clayton ranks fourth on the team in catches (34) and yards (480), but he has caught more than one pass just once in his past seven games. Still, if the situation were to repeat itself with Flacco looking for a receiver on fourth down during a two-minute drill, Clayton hopes that the quarterback would look to him.
"I always say that I want to be the guy," he said. "If we need a play in the game, throw it to me. That's my mind-set, that's my mentality. It's just the next game, it's a playoff game, it's a big game for us, and we want to win it."
Clayton has the confidence of his teammates. Said Chester: "He's made a million plays for us before, and I'm sure he'll continue to make plays for us."