5 Sanchez turnovers doom Jets as team’s playoffs chances slip away.
FOXBORO, MA – What a difference nine weeks make.
To say Sunday’s AFC East showdown between the Jets and the New England Patriots featured two teams heading in opposite directions would be an understatement. The Patriots are no longer out of sync on offense. Tom Brady no longer looks uncomfortable when pressure comes his way. And on the flip side, the Jets no longer possess the swagger on defense that marked their exhilarating Week Two victory over these Patriots.
Their quarterback doesn’t put together as many games like the one he orchestrated in that victory anymore either. On this cool November Sunday, the Jets’ Trojan warrior was in fact their Achilles Heel.
Sanchez finished the day a putrid 8-21 for 136 yards with four crippling interceptions, each managing to come at a worse time than the one preceding it. When the dust settled, the Patriots had methodically dismantled a desperate Jets team 31-14, putting Gang Green at 4-6 and all but out of the race for the AFC East title.
New York never lead in this crucial tilt, with Sanchez putting his team behind halfway through the first quarter when Patriots corner Leigh Bodden intercepted a pass and took it 53 yards for a score, putting New England up 7-0. The New England offense struck on the last play of the quarter, when quarterback Tom Brady hit wide receiver Randy Moss for a 4-yard touchdown pass putting the Pats up two scores.
The barrage continued in the second stanza, when running back Lawrence Maroney capped the Pats’ opening series of the second quarter with a two-yard score, putting New England up an insurmountable 21-0. Sanchez then cost his Jets three more points, when Bodden intercepted his second pass of the day, putting the Pats in great field position halfway through the frame. A Stephen Gostkowski 26-yard field goal put the Patriots up 24-0, and put the Jets on the ropes not even halfway through the game.
But a glimpse of hope broke through late in the second, when the Jets were able to block a New England punt deep in Patriots territory, and wide receiver Brad Smith was able to recover the loose ball and take it in for the Jets’ first score of the day, cutting the lead to 24-7 just before the half.
It seemed as though the tide was finally turning in favor of Gang Green in the third, when Sanchez drove his troops down the field on the opening series of the half, connecting with wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery on a ball tucked inside the sideline in the end zone, the 29-yard score bring the Jets within 10 points. Suddenly, their defense was showing signs of life, bending but not breaking, and keeping the team in the game allowing the offense a chance to put the team back in the affair.
But Sanchez struck again with another self-inflicted wound in the beginning of the fourth quarter, serving up his third interception of the day to Bodden, killing a Jets drive and crushing the momentum they’d fought so hard to achieve. The defense was able to force a punt, but Sanchez then committed his final interception of the day, this time Brandon Meriweather being the culprit. The result was a Maroney one-yard scoring run on the ensuing drive, putting the game away at 31-14.
The Patriots finished the day with 410 total yards, 299 of it coming through the air. Wideout Wes Welker made his presence felt after missing the clubs’ first matchup, catching a career-high 15 balls for 192 yards.
For the Jets, Thomas Jones posted a 100-yard performance on the ground, finishing with 103 on 21 carries.