Less than week after looking like a deer caught in headlights in Baltimore, Mark Sanchez had his way with the New York Giants’ starting defense.
Sanchez, appearing noticeably more comfortable and confident in his second career start, completed 13 of 20 passes, throwing for 149 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions, as the Jets defeated the Giants 27-25, Saturday night at Giants Stadium.
“I started to slow down and just relax,” said Sanchez. “That’s the kind of explosive offense we want to have. It was a blast.”
Jets head coach Rex Ryan seemed very impressed by the rookie’s bounce-back performance. “He showed poise, he was able to move in the pocket, we saw all that today,” said Ryan. “It’s big time to see that. I think we all feel good about our quarterback.”
The rookie’s impressive performance was highlighted by an outstanding play midway through the second quarter. On 2nd and 10 from the Giants 31 yard line, Sanchez gracefully alluded pressure from three Giants defenders and fired a ball on the run to Chansi Stuckey, inside the 10 yard line.
While it was a magnificent play by Sanchez, it was arguably an even more impressive play by the third year receiver out of Clemson. Stuckey, performing his own personal ballet number, tight-roped the sideline, shimmied, and spun his way into the end zone for the touchdown, putting the Jets on top, 14-13.
A humble Stuckey, attributed all of his success to the play of Sanchez. “Mark did great throwing the ball, he said. “I just made the best of the opportunities that I had.”
Stuckey, who finished with 4 receptions for 69 yards, drew high praise from his quarterback and his coach.
“It was all Stuckey again, just thinking ahead of the play,” said Sanchez. “He’s going to be someone for teams to game plan against and he had a great showing tonight.”
“I think he wanted me to know something,” joked Ryan. “He was outstanding, he really was.”
The Jet defense, which struggled early, turned in a solid performance, forcing two turnovers and keeping the Giants offense out of the end zone for the majority of the game.
Early on it looked as though Gang Green were in for a long night.
The Giants, starting their opening drive from the 40 yard line, following a botched kickoff by K Jay Feely, made quick work of the Jets’ starting defense on the game’s first possession. Manning and Jacobs orchestrated a ten play, 60-yard drive down the field, highlighted by three offside penalties by the Jets’ defense, and concluding with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Jacobs.
On the Giant’s second possession, the Jets’ secondary was nearly left in the dust again, as Manning aired a deep ball down the field for WR Steve Smith. Smith, who had two defenders easily beat, dropped the pass. Three plays later, Manning’s short pass attempt to WR Domenik Hixon was tipped by Jets’ LB Bart Scott and intercepted by LB David Harris.
“I just tried to make a play,” said Scott. “I have route recognition and understanding of what they like to do in certain formations. I just tried to get a hat up on the ball and shot up and Dave made a great play.”
Taking over at the Giants’ 27-yard line, Sanchez led the first-team offense down to the goal line. On fourth and goal, RB Thomas Jones dove over the pile, into the end zone, to get the Jets on the scoreboard.
Giants QB Eli Manning looked impressive early, but regressed as the game went on. Manning, who played the entire first half, completed 9 of 21 passes for 91 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.
RB Leon Washington turned in another rock-solid performance, rushing for 62 yards on 9 attempts.
Notes from the Meadowlands
Injury Report: RB Shonn Greene (ribs) did not play for the Jets. Greene is expected to miss the remainder of the preseason with cartilage damage in his ribs.
QB Watch: QB Kellen Clemens worked one series in the third quarter, completing 1 of 2 passes for 5 yards. There was a “Harvard” sighting as promised by Head Coach Rex Ryan at Thursday’s news conference. QB Chris Pizzotti worked one series in the fourth quarter, but did not attempt a pass. QB Erik Ainge completed his only pass of the night, a 70 yard bomb, which WR Aundrae Allison took all the way for the score
Foul Play: The Jets committed 12 penalties for 107 yards. CB Lito Sheppard was whistled for two pass interference penalties in the first half.
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