After three quarters of the 2010 season, quarterback Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets own a 9-3 record as midnight hits on this frigid Massachusetts evening. Despite Monday’s one-sided outcome in the battle of AFC heavyweights, the Jets remain in contention for division title and have a tremendous opportunity to return the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
Their 45-3 defeat at the hands of the Patriots in Foxboro halted a four-game win streak. And the lopsided margin will only count as one loss.
“You’d be surprised that there were guys that were really positive in the locker room,” said Sanchez, the second-year passer who completed 17 of 33 for 164 yards but threw three second-half interceptions that all produced Patriots touchdowns. “And that’s encouraging because we are a resilient group.”
“You would never imagine this, but you’d be surprised how are excited guys are just to get back on the field and this Miami game can’t come soon enough. So hats off to New England — they did a great job.”
Sanchez wasn’t diminishing the size of the defeat.
“This was a good old-fashioned butt-kicking,” he said after increasing his Foxboro turnover total to eight (seven INTs, one fumble) in two games at Gillette Stadium. “There are no two ways about it. I have to play better. Especially down the stretch, I need to make better decisions. When you’re playing an explosive offense like that, you can’t just give it to them. That’s what I did and we obviously paid for it.”
After so much buildup for a matchup of 9-2 clubs, the visitors suffered through a disastrous opening 15 minutes that we won’t overanalyze in this space. It didn’t snow on Gillette Stadium, but the Jets couldn’t get out of the way of repeated flurries and they just never got off the ropes on the big stage.
New York’s AFC representative never seemed to recover after Nick Folk badly missed a 53-yard field goal attempt that would have actually knotted things, 3-3, eight minutes into the ballgame. The Jets couldn’t get off the field three plays later as Tom Brady went to Wes Welker for 14 yards on third-and-7.
Then just two plays after that conversion, Eric Smith knocked down TE Rob Gronkowski for a 36-yard pass infraction on Brady’s heave to the rookie. That set up the law firm — BenJarvus Green-Ellis — for a 1-yard score and it was 10-0.
The snowball continued to roll the Patriots way as the Jets not only followed with a three-and-out but Steve Weatherford, who has had a tremendous season to date, misfied on a 12-yard boot. And even after S James Ihedigbo sacked Brady for a 12-yard loss, the Pats were able to score for a third time despite a third-and-22. They made if fourth-and-manageable as Brady went to Deion Branch for 19 and then the same pair finished things off on a 25-yard scoring hookup.
It was 17-0 and there still was a minute on the first quarter game clock. The Jets actually had a few promising moments, but they seemingly were always followed by trips on ice. Down 24-3 at the break, Sanchez led the Green & White down the field but any hopes of a comeback attempt ended when he was picked off by rookie LB Brandon Spikes. And the snowball became an absolute avalanche from there as the Jets suffered an unsightly loss.
“Early on we just didn’t start well,” said No. 6. “They started awfully fast and instead of fighting to come back like we normally do, I threw some bad balls.”
One game does not make a season. The Patriots were clearly the better team in a clash for the division lead, but the Green & White have a full fourth quarter of football to tackle. That starts Sunday at New Meadowlands Stadium as the Dolphins, 6-6 overall but 5-1 on the road, pay a visit.
Then the Jets will embark on one of the most difficult two-game December road swings in franchise history as they’ll visit the 9-3 Steelers on Dec. 19 followed by the 9-3 Bears on Dec. 26. The Bills come to New Jersey on Jan. 2 as the regular season reaches a conclusion on Jan. 2.
“There is nothing to bring back this night. There is nothing to bring back 9-2 and start over,” Sanchez said. “It’s just getting to win No. 10 and the best way we can do that is go out and beat Miami at home.”
The fact of the matter is plenty of football remains. This was about as painful a regular-season loss as you will experience, but the Jets can’t let it define their season. No matter how bad it looked, they still can be an excellent football team and achieve great things.
Tags: Gillette Stadium, Mark Sanchez, New England Patriots
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