For one game, New York quarterback Mark Sanchez looked more like Tom Brady than Tom Brady.
Following a ragged opening week, one in which the host Jets were questioned after a one-point loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the team bounced back with a 28-14 thumping over New England at the New Meadowlands Stadium last Sunday.
A one-time star at USC, Sanchez threw a career-best three touchdowns, while hitting a career-high 21 passes. In all, Sanchez had 30 attempts, and accounted for 220 yards.
In Week One, the second-year field general completed 10 of 21 passes for 74 yards, and failed to throw a touchdown, as New York’s offense mustered six first downs, and kicked three field goals.
This time, the Jets totaled 23 first downs, 14 through the air, as Sanchez connected on six of 13 third-down passes.
Brady, a three-time Super Bowl champion, and two-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player, finished 20 of 36 for 248 yards, with two touchdowns and two second-half interceptions.
New York cornerback Darrelle Revis injured his hamstring just before the half, and didn’t play in the second half, which saw the Jets shut out the Patriots (1-1).
New England led 7-0 with 13:17 left in the second quarter when Brady, who hit 13 of 20 attempts for 179 yards in the first half, drilled slot receiver Wes Welker (six catches for 38 yards) with a six-yard toss.
The Patriots drove 75 yards, with a personal foul penalty keeping the 15-play drive alive.
Sanchez then marched the Jets 77 yards, which consumed 12 plays, with wide receiver Braylon Edwards (45 yards and five catches) hauling in a 10-yard pass and 6:22 left before the intermission.
With less than a minute remaining in the second quarter, Brady unloaded a 34-yard spiral down the middle that wide receiver Randy Moss (38 yards and two receptions) corralled with one hand and gave New England a 14-7 edge.
On the play, Revis, who missed nearly all of summer camp over a contract dispute, was beaten, came up lame, and went directly into the locker room.
The drive took four plays and covered 80 yards, as the Patriots’ offense seemed poised to have a productive second half.
Tight end Aaron Hernandez (101 yards and six catches) highlighted the march by grabbing a 46-yard pass.
Everything was going New England’s way, and given that All-Pro Revis was sidelined the Patriots were at a loss to explain what happened in the second half, one in which they were outscored 18-0.
New York (1-1) closed the gap to 14-10 when Nick Folk climaxed a 49-yard, seven-play drive with a 49-yard field goal as no time was left on the clock.
Folk’s 36-yard field goal made it a one-point affair, and when Sanchez connected with wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (four receptions for 26 yards) on a two-yard pass, and then nailed Edwards on the two-point conversion, the Jets were ahead, 21-14, late in the third quarter.
It was clear the Jets were in control, marching up and down the field. This time, New York moved 70 yards, and used six plays.
The final salt in the wound was a Sanchez one-yard pass to tight end Dustin Keller (115 yards and seven catches) with slightly over six minutes left in the final quarter.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, and is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For now, the heat’s off the Jets.