The Jets’ division title hopes suffered a major blow Sunday night and Mark Sanchez pointed the blame at himself.
“We would have liked to win. It would have set us up real well in the division, but unfortunately I didn’t play well enough for this offense to be successful and for us to win,” he said after the Jets dropped a 37-16 contest to the Patriots at MetLife Stadium. “To have two turnovers like that and taking a couple of sacks is never good for our offense. We just didn’t play well enough and hats off to them for playing well.”
Sanchez threw for 306 yards, but he was picked off twice in the second half by Pats LB Rob Ninkovich and those turnovers led to 10 points for the visitors. He was also sacked five times as DE Andre Carter was virtually unblockable with 4.5 sacks.
“We’re not really surprised by them doing anything new,” said LG Matt Slauson. “They always do different stuff against us. They’ll play every game a certain way and then, against us, completely change. It’s obvious that their goal is to beat us badly every time.”
Instead of inside stunts, that Pats executed outside stunts with the tackles and the ends. But the Jets had the Pats on their heels early, moving right down the field on their first possession, only to come up empty when Nick Folk’s 24-yard field goal try sailed left.
After spotting the Patriots an early lead, it seemed like the Jets had weathered the storm late in the second stanza. Sanchez called his own number on a 2-yard keeper and his third rush TD of the season gave the Jets a 9-6 advantage. But they mismanaged the clock as Sanchez called timeout after a second-down play and 1:24 left in the half.
“You can’t do that,” said Sanchez. “We had a running clock and we have to use all the time. It was poor clock management on my part.”
“Time management is an absolutely critical error and that’s my responsibility,” added Rex Ryan.
The Patriots responded with an 80-yard scoring drive and the Jets trailed, 13-9, at the break.
The second half was marked by self-inflicted wounds. First Joe McKnight muffed a punt and that led to a field goal, and then Sanchez threw a little hot to Shonn Greene. Ninkovich corralled the bounce and Tom Brady capitalized with a 57-yard scoring drive that ended on a 5-yard toss to TE Rob Gronkowski in the end zone.
“I threw a little too hard to Shonn. You can’t do that,” said No. 6. “He has good hands, but he’s a halfback. You have to give him a good ball. It bounced right off his head and the ball should be in his numbers. It’s an accuracy thing right there.”
Down, 23-9, late in the third, Sanchez led a 10-play, 71-yard march that culminated on a 7-yard red zone score to Plaxico Burress. But Brady responded with an 8-yard connection to Deion Branch and the Jets were down 14 with just 8:10 remaining.
Two plays later, Ninkovich sent thousands to the exits when he returned his second pick 12 yards for a TD. There would be no magic at the Met on this night.
“He made a pretty good play. He hit Dustin, so I’m going to my checkdown [LaDainian Tomlinson], and he jumped in front of the back and he takes it back for a touchdown,” Sanchez said. “So get to the back quicker or see in front of him and don’t make that throw.”
Sanchez and the Jets had their three-game win streak snapped and they’re 5-4 with a very short week on the horizon. They’ll leave for Denver on Wednesday and will battle the Broncos on Thursday evening in another critical contest.
“I’m just excited to get back out on the field. Anytime you don’t play your best, it’s frustrating, and all that you want to do is play again,” said Sanchez, who got his 306 yards on 20-of-39 passing. “If there’s any time to get rid of a loss quickly, this is the time.
“But we’re going to have our work cut out for us. Denver is playing pretty well, they’re running with some emotion. [Tim] Tebow’s got them playing well, so we need a great road trip. We need to be focused. We need to get rid of this loss and move on and know we have to play well down the stretch.”
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