Sanchez Overcomes Early Struggles to Shine Late

Florham Park, N.J.- If one was to equate Mark Sanchez’s performance yesterday to a weather forecast it would look something like this.

The day started out cloudy and rainy causing sloppy conditions, with spurts of thunderstorms (snapping and fumbling issues that didn’t result in turnovers, but killed drives) briefly interrupted by glimpses of sunshine creating a temporary rainbow.

But just like a rainbow is an illusion, so was the fleeting thought that maybe, just maybe after the 74-yard TD pass to Bryalon Edwards, the sky was about to clear up for what appeared to be an offense in rhythm. The sky didn’t stay clear for long, in fact the thunderstorms just came back stronger, this time inflicting more damage (a fumble by Edwards giving the Lions great field position and an interception thrown by Sanchez just as it looked like the offense was firing on all cylinders) and the outlook for the rest of the day looked gloomy at best.

What's that kid? You think we ought to be running a hurry-up offense, okay show me what you got. And that's exactly what Sanchez did. (Jetsinsider.com Photo).

But just when Jets fans were getting ready to pack it in and head for drier pastures, Sanchez stepped up and parted the clouds from the sky with his heroic comeback drives, ending the day with the sun beaming brightly with just a few clouds still hovering around serving as a reminder of the storm that the Jets just survived.

For most of the day Sanchez looked like he just wasn’t comfortable, with the Jets continuing to pass the ball instead of force feeding the defense a steady helping of the run, Sanchez continually misfired too high or too wide and it seemed like no matter what they tried the drive would find a way to stall.

There was the brief moment where Sanchez led a long drive that resulted in a field-goal, the Jets first points in over five quarters of play, followed by the beautiful 74-yard TD pass that would give the Jets a short-lived 10-7 lead. As the Jets headed into halftime it seemed the offense had found it’s rhythm, but once the second-half started it became all too clear that wasn’t going to be the case.

Between the penalties, the fumbles (five total, only one was lost), the interception and the misfired passes the Jets offense continued to beat themselves, but there was no quit in the Jets and most importantly there was no quit in Sanchez.

“I think the entire team is just a resilient bunch and when we need it the most, it seems like we find a way to win games. We didn’t do it last week, but this week we just didn’t want it to slip, so I’m proud of the way we played, our effort through the entire game.” Sanchez said, ”I think the coaching point really is just we got to play like that from play one and not get behind the ball and have to fight back. It saves us a lot of effort and makes these games a lot easier if we don’t wait until the fourth-quarter to turn it on.”

If the Jets could find a way to play like that from the first snap of the game, not only would it make the game a lot easier on them, it would make life a lot easier on their fans. It comes with the territory of being a Jets fan, but it seems even more so that this year’s Jets team should come with a warning label that says, ‘Do not root for the Jets, if you have a weak heart, chest pains or experience shortness of breath.’

Whether it was the nature of the hurry-up (maybe Sanchez had more success because he had less time to think and just reacted, maybe the progressions were simpler reads), the Lions defense running out of steam, a combination of them or both or just a freak coincidence the Jets made sure they showed up just in time, literally just in time as Nick Folk’s kick to tie the game went through the uprights with zeros all across the clock.

“We’ll the kid has been trying to get us to go more two-minute and you know I’m a ground-and-pound guy and all that kind of jazz and at the end of that day we said alright let it go kid. I thought Schotty did an outstanding job of play-calling, no panic whatsoever.” Rex Ryan said, “There might have been a little p-p-p-p-p-panic on my part, but there was none of his part and he was solid as a rock and so was the kid. He made some big throws and (it was) the first game in his career, 323 yards passing, so that was impressive.”

When Sanchez was asked about him lobbying for more of a hurry-up, two-minute drill style of play he said, “Absolutely. .. For all of overtime that’s what we were going to do. …At the end of the game we started going ‘hurry-up’, then we went full two-minute attack and then as soon as we kicked the field-goal, I’m running over to the sidelines saying, ‘these guys can’t stop us,’ we got to go with bolt.” Sanchez said, “Let’s keep going, keep going and we talked about it for a second and everyone agreed. That was our best chance to win, you know, why start running it again when we got them on their heels and it was obvious we took over the game at the end and we took this win.”

“Well, we went don’t the field twice, you know, scored once and then kicked a field-goal to tie it. Why not go one more shot at it? I mean two-for-two, might as well. It was a no-brainer to me and to the guys on offense and that’s exactly what we wanted.” Sanchez said as he exuded confidence talking from the post-game podium.

“It was tough for us man, I knew coming into this game it was going to be tough. We were going to have to fight our way through it because the Lions, they never give up.” Santonio Holmes said, ”I played these guys last year, our team was doing very well (and) we came in here and struggled with these guys and we gave them a break. All the big plays on special teams, you know the bonehead plays that we made, you know they all came back for us at the end, but we can’t give away games like this.”

Holmes finished the day with five receptions for 114 yards (22.8 yards per catch), including the 52-yard catch and run that set up the game winning field-goal in overtime. Keller was nowhere to be found for most of the game, but he showed up just when the Jets needed it the most catching four passes for 59 yards, with all of his catches going for a first-down and many of them on key third-downs.

Sanchez finished the day setting a new career high in passing yards, marking the first time he has passed for over 300 yards, and no he doesn’t care that it took him overtime to achieve it and frankly no one else should care either. The only stat that really matters from yesterday’s game is the W the Jets got to add in their win column.

“We can’t quit, we got one goal, one destination, no team should stop us that stands in front of us.” Holmes said.

Yesterday the Jets proved they are without a doubt a resilent bunch who will not lie down for anyone. It’s clear the Jets focus is still on the Super Bowl as it has been all season, with the talent and potential on this team it seems like Holmes is right, no team should stop the Jets, except for well, the Jets.

If this team can find a way to stop beating itself and digging early holes, then and only then can the forecast for their Super Bowl dreams clear up with the sun shining brightly on their shoulders as they continue their quest towards Dallas.

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