Sanchez can’t deliver as Jets fall to Giants 29-14

The New York Jets put their playoff hopes in Mark Sanchez’s
hands against the Giants’ porous pass defense.

The maligned quarterback couldn’t deliver. Just like most of his

Sanchez threw a career-high 59 passes, completing 30 of them,
but also had two interceptions and lost a fumble inside the 5-yard
line in the Jets’ 29-14 loss that was a devastating blow to their
playoff hopes.

”We had a good opportunity to control our own destiny,”
Sanchez said. ”It’s completely our fault.”

This was supposed to be the season the New York Jets got back to
the Super Bowl and walked away with the Lombardi Trophy. Remember,
Rex Ryan guaranteed it.

Well guess what? The Jets (8-7) had everything in place to make
the boast come true and they gave it away over the past two weeks
with a dreadful loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last week and this
embarrassing setback in which Ryan’s team didn’t step up after a
week of bragging about how good they are.

To get to the playoffs, the Jets have to beat Miami next weekend
and get help, and lots of it. They have to hope for Cincinnati and
Tennessee to lose, and either have Oakland or Denver lose next week
to make the playoffs.

”I mean, we don’t deserve to control our own destiny,”
linebacker Bart Scott said. ”We haven’t played good enough
football to do that. We need to try to finish strong, but if you
don’t make it to the playoffs, you’ve got nobody to blame but

The loss to the Giants was stunning, especially after the Jets
bragged they were the better team because they went to the AFC
title game the past two years.

They didn’t play like a title contender. After scoring on their
first possession, they did nothing on offense. Sanchez turned the
ball over three times, and the offense was 4 of 21 on third down
and the line allowed five sacks. Defensively, the secondary missed
a couple of tackles on Victor Cruz’s record 99-yard go-ahead
touchdown catch for the Giants and they saw Ahmad Bradshaw run over
them on touchdown runs of 14 and 19 yards.

”This was a big game for us and in big games, you can’t make
mistakes,” said cornerback Darrelle Revis, who was outstanding in
defeat. ”As well as we did play on defense, there were a couple of
plays that we gave to them. It’s real sad right now. We needed this
win. We made some mistakes and they outplayed us.”

Neither the Giants nor Jets looked much like playoff material,
but the Giants can now win the NFC East with a victory over Dallas
here next Sunday.

”To be honest with you, we need to put this one aside as fast
as we can and go to work on Dallas with the same attitude we had
last week,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. ”Basically, I just
walked into the team meeting Tuesday and said, `if we win two, then
we are in. I am not going to focus on last week’s game at all,
everything that we are going to do is in front of us.’

Cruz, who had three catches for 164 yards, broke Amani Toomer’s
single-season mark for yards receiving – and the team’s record for
longest touchdown reception, a 99-yarder that gave the Giants the
lead for good in the second quarter.

Ryan set the tone early in the week, saying he believed his club
was the better team in the area. Tom Coughlin responded by saying,
”Talk is cheap. Play the game.”

It was the Giants who did.

”They were the better team today, and they’re the better team
this year,” Ryan said. ”Clearly, I was wrong.”

The back-and-forth continued even before the game, when Giants
kicker Lawrence Tynes and running back Brandon Jacobs both removed
black curtains placed by the Jets over the Giants’ Super Bowl
logos. The Jets said it was simply their standard practice to cover
those logos for every one of the team’s home games, regardless of
opponent, because it is the players’ entrance.

It was a brutal game at times, with both offenses sluggish and
prone to mistakes. The Jets were also penalized 10 times, including
a late hit call on Aaron Maybin, who plowed into D.J. Ware in the
fourth quarter – a play on which Coughlin was injured out of

Eli Manning finished 9 of 27 for 225 yards, but Sanchez knew he
and Ryan would shoulder the responsibility for the loss.

”I left a lot of completions out there,” Sanchez said. ”We
just missed some things in the passing game and you just can’t do
that against a good defense like that.”

The sloppiest stretch came midway through the fourth quarter
with wild swings of momentum. The Jets got new life after an
incompletion on fourth-and-1 from the 47 when Deon Grant was called
for pass interference.

Two plays later, Plaxico Burress – playing against the Giants in
the regular season for the first time since they cut him in 2009
and he served a 20-month prison sentence on a gun charge – was
called for offensive pass interference to negate a touchdown

On the next snap, Jason Pierre-Paul sacked Sanchez, who lost the
ball, and it was recovered by Justin Tuck. Ryan challenged the
play, and officials reversed the call, saying Sanchez’s arm was
going forward.

The Giants got their turnover moments later, though, when
Sanchez fumbled the snap from center Nick Mangold in the end

The ball changed hands again when David Harris intercepted
Manning’s toss that tipped off Hakeem Nicks’ hands. The Jets got
yet another break after Sanchez was ruled to have been sacked by
Linval Joseph, who forced a fumble that the Jets recovered. Ryan
challenged again, and the play was reversed, with officials saying
it was incomplete.

On third-and-12 from the 13, Sanchez scrambled for 11 yards –
and Antrel Rolle was called for holding, putting the ball at the 1.
Sanchez rolled right on the next play and dived into the end zone,
making it 20-14 with 7:17 left.

But the Jets wouldn’t get any closer. Chris Canty sacked Sanchez
for a safety, and after an onside free kick by the Jets was
recovered by the Giants, Bradshaw had a 19-yard TD run with 2:04

Cruz’s 99-yard catch – the longest scoring pass in team history
– came with the Giants in dire straits facing third-and-10 from the
1. Manning, standing in the back of the end zone, zipped a pass to
Cruz, who dodged tackle attempts by Antonio Cromartie and Kyle
Wilson and took off down the right sideline. Eric Smith was the
only one with a chance to get him, but Cruz outran him to give the
Giants a 10-7 lead with 2:12 left in the opening half.

It was also the longest offensive play against the Jets in team
history – and a sign of the type of afternoon it would be for

”I don’t want to be the second-best team in this city,” Ryan
said. ”No chance. I’m not signing up for that. We’ll play them
again. We’d be more than happy to go play them right now, but we’re
going to have to wait four years.”

Notes: DE Jason Pierre-Paul had two of the Giants’ five sacks,
giving him 15 1/2 this season. … Jets S Brodney Pool said he
experienced migraine symptoms during the game, worsened after a
hard hit in the third quarter when Bradshaw slammed into him. He
said he was fine. … Jets LB Garrett McIntyre hurt his knee
covering the opening kickoff, and there was no immediate word on
the injury.