Entering a week 7 battle between AFC rivals, New York Jets and New England Patriots, both teams were 3-3 and needed to solidify a first place spot. What could have been and should have been a moralizing victory and a locked-in first place seed in the AFC East for the New York Jets ended in disaster and disgust once again for fans.
The Sanchez haters were back the minute the struggling quarterback melted under pressure after fumbling the ball to lose the game, and giving the crowd of Gillette Stadium a sigh of relief. The Jets staged a fourth quarter comeback and outscored the Patriots 13-3 in the fourth quarter, but two comeback drives by Tom Brady (one to tie the game and one to win the game) and field goals by Steven Gostkowski solidified a Patriots win.
The Jets certainly had their chances to take the win. The most devastating play fans will remember was a third and four with two minutes to go in the game for the Jets. Sanchez hit Steven Hill right in the chest with a perfect pass, which would have given the Jets a first down and kept their drive going for a possible touchdown. Instead, Hill dropped the ball, ending the Jets drive and forcing the team to settle for a field goal to tie the game. Seconds later, CB Devin McCourty fumbled the kickoff return and the Jets recovered on the Patriots 20-yard line. After questionable, conservative play calling by Rex Ryan, including attempted running plays by Tim Tebow and Joe McKnight, Sanchez was sacked for a loss of 10 and the Jets were forced to kick another field goal. This gave Tom Brady 1:37 left to march down the field and tie the game, and he was able to do so in Tom Brady-like fashion.
Sanchez did complete more than fifty percent of his passes for the second straight week. He was able to connect with eight different Jet receivers, throwing for 328 yards, which included a striking pass to Dustin Keller in the fourth quarter. Sanchez did have a few significant off plays, including a botched hand-off to Shonn Greene forcing a Patriot safety, and a long pass that came up short and fell in the hands of CB Alfonzo Dennard. Also, the two sacks towards the end of the game certainly did not help Sanchez’s case in convincing fans that he is the man for the job.
Sanchez has not found ways to win close games for the Jets this season. Concerns regarding his overall play are now back in the minds of fans. Head coach Rex Ryan is continuing to defend Sanchez’s play and the conservative play calling. The Jets need to find some consistency from week to week in order to be looked at as a legitimate playoff contender.