- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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LINDEN, N.J. -- When Mark Sanchez walked into Jersey Lanes, with his Saks Fifth Avenue dress shirt still on from an earlier event, many of the Jets' fans who had shown up for Santonio Holmes' fundraiser at the Linden, N.J., bowling alley got out their cameras and followed him to his lane.
The second-year quarterback may have displayed some flaws in Week 8, but he is still a huge draw at an event like this. And he wasn't going to stand up his wide receivers -- Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery, who attended as well -- a day after their worst game as a unit this season.
These are the guys he has to look at every day, on the field or in offensive meetings, and the marquee quarterback needs to have their backs when it matters, whether it's on third-and-long or at Jersey Lanes. Sanchez said it was hard to sit in meetings earlier in the day and go through the film of the loss.
"I think we all play so hard for Rex [Ryan] and for each other, to take criticism from the outside that's nothing -- but from each other ..." Sanchez said as he signed autographs. "You know you're disappointed, you want to do it right for the other guy, you want to throw the perfect ball to each guy. Just didn't happen."
Jets coach Rex Ryan said earlier that Sanchez wasn't one to look at drops and penalties and pass the buck. It's one of the reasons Sanchez has the authority of a team leader despite his youth. He's always been vocal, even as a rookie.
"The one thing about that young man, Mark, is that he always takes the blame," Ryan said. "He has broad shoulders. He'll take it, that's who he is. That's the nature of the position and it takes broad shoulders to play quarterback here in this town."
A few hundred fans, many wearing Sanchez jerseys, bowled to raise money for sickle cell anemia and Holmes' III and Long Foundation. Holmes' son has the disease, and he was late to training camp to be at his son's side for a treatment this summer.
Holmes was also suspended for the first four games of the season after violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He and Sanchez, who worked so well in training camp, have connected 10 times for 131 yards in three games this season. Against the Packers, Holmes dropped a ball that would likely have led to a touchdown. Sanchez said it was a tough day all around.
"Those games are going to happen," Sanchez said. "We all know what to do. I'm doing so much better this year with my reads and my discipline and my footwork, everything, and then some days it doesn't bounce your way."
He used the example of Cotchery, one of the most consistent players on the team, who caught 4 of 13 passes sent his way.
"Take a guy like Jerricho, he's one of the hardest working, best guys on the team, and he doesn't have his best day," Sanchez said. "It's really too bad but it's not lack of effort or trying, and that's the most important thing. If it was a mental thing we didn't know how to prepare -- I didn't know what to do, guys didn't know what to do -- that's one thing, this is missed passes, dropped balls, physical stuff that gets better."
Sanchez said things can easily get back on track and used the example of the disappointing home-opening loss to Baltimore that was followed by a five-game winning streak.
"If we bounce back like we did there, we'll be 10-2 and nobody will be mad, you know?" Sanchez said.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan attempted to make sense of Week 8's loss.