Mark Sanchez dropped back to throw, his legs got tangled and he fell on his backside.
Some New York Jets fans laughed while others groaned. It was that kind of night for the quarterback – until the last play of the team’s scrimmage Saturday night.
Sanchez, competing with rookie Geno Smith for the starting job, rebounded from a shaky performance by throwing a 57-yard touchdown pass to Stephen Hill to end the scrimmage on a good note.
”Stephen went out and got one for me,” Sanchez said, ”which was nice.”
It was an otherwise rough night for Sanchez, who was booed by the more than 6,000 fans at SUNY Cortland after Antonio Cromartie intercepted him on an overthrown pass to Vidal Hazelton.
”Oh, shoot, I don’t care,” Sanchez said. ”That’s the way it goes.”
Cromartie, who made a nice play on the ball, took exception to the jeers.
”I think that’s bull,” Cromartie said. ”My thing is, if you’re going to be a fan, be a fan. That’s what it’s all about. He’s our quarterback and Geno’s our quarterback, and they’re in a competition.
”You don’t come out here and boo anybody, at the end of the day. We’re a family out here and we make sure we look out for each other.”
Sanchez, mostly working with the second-team offense as scheduled, finished 6 of 11 for 93 yards. He left some fans laughing when he stumbled – untouched – on one play and fell onto the turf after getting his legs tangled up.
He also overthrew Clyde Gates in the end zone, but a wide-open Jeremy Kerley also dropped an earlier pass that would have been a huge gain.
”It was nice to close it that way and finish strong,” Sanchez said of the TD to Hill. ”It’s really like a practice. I know it’s like a game atmosphere, but the way we’re set up where some drives are with the 1s and some are with the 2s, you’re just trying to get your feel and get into a little bit of a rhythm, which isn’t always easy.”
Smith hardly had an eye-popping performance, but had the better night overall while working mostly with Marty Mornhinweg’s first-team offense. The Jets have been alternating the two quarterbacks every third practice, and Smith’s chance with the starters fell on the day of the scrimmage.
Smith, who had three series with the starters compared to one for Sanchez, was 9 of 16 for 77 yards and had no touchdown throws.
His first drive of the night was promising as he led the team down the field, but Bilal Powell had a 3-yard touchdown run wiped out by an illegal formation penalty. The drive ended a few plays later when Smith’s shovel pass to Powell on fourth down fell incomplete.
”Overall, I think we did a pretty good job as a whole of moving the ball, moving the chains,” Smith said. ”We’ve just got to get better in the red zone.”
Smith, the team’s second-round pick out of West Virginia, has been solid throughout training camp and has been decidedly equal to Sanchez in the competition so far.
”This really is the beginning stages, if you will, of the competition,” coach Rex Ryan said.
In his first game-like setting as a pro, Smith felt comfortable and appeared confident.
”I just treated it as another day, another practice,” Smith said. ”I tried to maximize the reps.”
Greg McElroy, competing with Matt Simms for the No. 3 job, threw two touchdown passes: a 48-yarder to Ryan Spadola and a 70-yarder to Hazelton.
The Jets’ first preseason game is next Friday at Detroit, and the players thought the scrimmage served as a good test run.
”I think that might have been the best scrimmage we’ve had since we’ve been coming here,” Ryan said. ”It was very competitive. We did a lot of good things, and some not-so-good things.”
Notes: Ryan said rookie OL Brian Winters, the team’s third-round pick, injured an ankle, but didn’t believe it was ”that severe.” … Ryan acknowledged RB Joe McKnight suffered a head injury in practice Friday, but didn’t know ”if it was a concussion or something like that.” McKnight didn’t participate in the scrimmage. … Also not practicing were: WR Santonio Holmes (foot), RB Chris Ivory (hamstring), OL Stephen Peterman (shoulder), C Dalton Freeman (ankle), TE Kellen Winslow Jr. (likely a rest day) and WRs Titus Ryan, Jordan White and WR Marcus Davis. … The crowd for last year’s scrimmage topped 9,400 fans – 3,400 more than this year – with Tim Tebow on the Jets’ roster.