Commentary

Sanchez leads Jets to Miracle in Motown

Second-year QB lives up to 'Sanchise' moniker with three clutch drives vs. Lions

Updated: November 8, 2010, 10:13 AM ET
By Rob Parker | ESPNNewYork.com

DETROIT -- It was the Miracle in Motown.

The New York Jets were dead and just about buried at Ford Field on Sunday. The Detroit Lions had a 10-point lead and the clock was ticking.

The Jets were 4:26 away from having their Super Bowl or bust season derailed with a second straight woeful loss. Worse, a loss to the lowly Lions, who last beat a quality football team when Moby Dick was a guppy.

Enter Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.

In the Jets' 23-20 I-don't-believe-what-I-just-saw overtime victory over the Lions, Sanchez lived up to the hype and the nickname of "Sanchise."

Mark Sanchez
Andrew Weber/US PresswireJets quarterback Mark Sanchez recorded his first 300-yard game in Sunday's overtime victory against the Lions.

The second-year QB engineered three straight drives, two in the final four minutes. He had a 1-yard touchdown run and set up the game-tying 36-yard field goal with four seconds left.

In OT, Sanchez made the big throw, connecting with Santonio Holmes on a 52-yard pass play to basically set up the game-winning field goal. In those drives, Sanchez completed 10 of 13 passes for 144 yards en route to his first career 300-yard game.

"The entire team is just a resilient bunch and when we need it the most, it seems like we find a way to win games," said Sanchez, who completed 22 of 39 passes for 336 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Some might call it lucky or pin the victory more on how horrible the Lions were down the stretch. Still, throws had to be completed, plays had to be made.

"Mark did a super job handling the situation," said Jets coach Rex Ryan, whose team improved to 6-2.

Let's face it, for the first 56 minutes -- other than that 74-yard touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards at the end of the first half -- the Jets' offense was terrible. Trailing 20-10, the Jets looked completely out of it.

Nothing was working. They couldn't run. They couldn't complete passes. They turned the ball over. And they also took enough dumb penalties (11 if you're counting at home) to lose the game by three touchdowns. But they were able to overcome all that because Sanchez didn't panic. He didn't go for the 10-point home run that doesn't exist.

"The kid's been trying to get us to go more two-minute," Ryan said about Sanchez. "I'm a ground-and-pound guy and all that jazz.

"At the end of the day, we said, 'OK, let it go kid.' Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was solid as a rock and so was the kid. He made some big throws. That was impressive."

Sanchez wanted to talk more about the team. But this was his day for sure. "It gives us a lot of confidence after the game," he said. "It's a good reminder of taking care of the ball in those situations, getting the ball downfield when you need to, but having faith in taking it one play at a time, really and not forcing anything."

Sanchez was a seasoned veteran out there. People around NFL had to take notice of his performance suitable for framing.

"He's maturing before our eyes," linebacker Bart Scott said. "We don't want it to get down to this -- the last minute of the game."

But if you're the Jets, now you have to start believing you have a guy who can deliver.

Down the road, this victory will count even more. Against a better team, in a tougher situation, Sanchez will be able to draw from this. Confidence is such a big part of having success in the NFL.

Not only can Sanchez believe in himself, but so can his teammates. They won't be hoping, they'll be expecting it because he has already done it.

That feeling matters a lot at the end of games, especially when the hurry-up offense has to be run. "That's when he's at his best, when he's in that two-minute drill," tackle Damien Woody said. "That's when he's at his best, calling plays, just making things happen out there.

"It didn't really surprise me for him to do it because he has done it before."

In the Jets' victory over Denver, Sanchez was able to win it at the end as well. That's now two victories he has his fingerprints all over.

"We're glad to sneak up out of here with a win," Edwards said. "It's like Denver. We got out of there with one of those type wins. It's another one for us.

"It's good for Mark and good for us."

For sure, things didn't start well. But the game ended well.

You can thank Sanchise, er, Sanchez for that miracle turnaround.

Rob Parker is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com.

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