When it was over, after another three turnovers by the starting quarterback, the head coach offered his undying endorsement.
Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions in the Jets season-ending 19-17 loss to the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday. And afterward, Rex Ryan stood firmly behind the third-year quarterback.
"I think he’s the long-term solution," Ryan said. "I don’t think there’s any doubt. He’s won a lot of games for us. We had three interceptions, two by a defensive lineman. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before."
Ryan added, "It’s hard to explain. I know Mark. I think he’s got all the tools to be a great quarterback. He’s been a winning quarterback here. We’ve got to make sure we’re doing everything we can for the New York Jets to be successful."
Sanchez finished 21-of-32 for 207 yards, two touchdowns and the three interceptions Sunday.
"Today (Sunday) wasn’t his best outing, let me put it that way," Ryan said.
Sanchez threw two interceptions to defensive end Randy Starks.
The first came when he was trying to dump a pass off to running back Shonn Greene with nine seconds remaining in the first half. That led to a 58-yard Dan Carpenter field goal and three free points.
The second one came in the fourth quarter and led to another Carpenter field goal.
His third pick was the killer. It came inside the Miami 10-yard line with the Jets trailing 16-10 with 2:55 remaining in the game. Linebacker Marvin Mitchell picked off the pass, which was intended for Greene but underthrown.
That one sealed the game. A final touchdown drive was merely window dressing.
Santonio Holmes, who was benched late in the game for poor attitude, was not exactly complimentary of Sanchez while speaking of the Jets’ three-game losing streak to end the season.
"It definitely hurt our chances in where we wanted to be as a unit," Holmes said when asked about Sanchez’ late-season struggles. "Offensively, we were doing pretty good throughout the whole season and the past couple games kind of tell the tale for where we ended up after 17 weeks."
But Holmes added, "He can be a great quarterback. He’s got a lot of work this offseason to do and I think we’ll get it together this offseason."