Tebow, Sanchez battle AWFULLY close
The New York Giants were all over Mark Sanchez. They got to Tim Tebow, too.
With the Jets’ offense struggling and the Giants’ defense in midseason form, this turned out to be a preseason mismatch.
Rookie Jayron Hosley returned an interception of Sanchez 77 yards for a touchdown, and the defending Super Bowl champions got seven sacks while stifling the Jets in a 26-3 victory over their hometown rivals Saturday night.
”We played good,” Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. ”Still a preseason game, still got a lot of things to learn from, but I think we played fast. We played decisive.”
Lawrence Tynes kicked four field goals, and former Rutgers fullback Joe Martinek had a 14-yard touchdown catch from Ryan Perrilloux for the Giants (1-1), who never trailed. Eli Manning and the rest of the offensive starters for the Giants (No. 3 in the AP Pro32) were mostly quiet, too, but they didn’t need much to win on this night.
”We have a lot more to fix than the Giants do, clearly,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said.
Both teams struggled on third downs, with the Giants going 2 for 13 and the Jets 1 for 13. But the Jets (0-2) had some costly penalties and just couldn’t give their quarterbacks much time to do anything. Embattled right tackle Wayne Hunter got manhandled for four sacks — including two by Jason Pierre-Paul — although one was negated by a penalty.
”As a defensive line, we were able to get some pressure,” Tuck said. ”And that’s really what we need to do if we want to be a good defense. Defensively, as a whole, we played pretty well. We were able rush the quarterback. … It’s a step in the right direction, a plus for us.”
Sanchez finished 9 of 11 for 59 yards and the costly interception, but was under pressure on nearly every play.
”Mark threw the ball well tonight,” Ryan said, ”but it’s hard to throw when you’re flat on your back.”
Sanchez was also without injured wide receivers Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley and Chaz Schilens, and it showed. Through two preseason games, the Jets have failed to score a touchdown.
”We struggled,” Sanchez said. ”We were good in spurts, but I know we can play better than that up front. I know we can block those four-man rush looks. I’ve seen our guys do it. And, I know we have the right personnel.”
Tebow, with his elusiveness and knack for comebacks, couldn’t even help the Jets (No. 14) in his home debut. He led them to their only points of the night on a 30-yard field goal by Josh Brown, but was sacked four times and finished 5 of 14 for 69 yards.
Hosley, a third-round pick out of Virginia Tech, had the biggest play when he gave the Giants a 13-0 lead on his long interception return with 2:03 left in the opening half. With the Jets finally moving the ball, Sanchez tried to get a short pass to Patrick Turner, but Hosley stepped in front of the toss that was slightly behind the receiver and ran down the sideline untouched.
”When I threw the ball, I thought it was really accurate,” Sanchez said. ”You miss on one play and that’s what can happen.”
What made the play even more remarkable was the fact that Hosley appeared to injure his right foot on the return. He was wearing a walking boot after the game. He wasn’t sure of the extent of the injury, and expected to have more tests Sunday.
Ryan joked that his team’s offense would be ”vanilla with some sprinkles” – and he wasn’t kidding. The Jets started slowly and never really got going as the Giants’ front seven played like the group that helped lead them to the Super Bowl title last season. The Jets managed just 148 net yards, including 65 on the ground.
”We were able to stop the run,” Tuck said, ”and when that happens, it’s kind of like a feeding frenzy with our D-ends.”
Tebow came in to a mixed reaction – cheers from Jets fans and boos from the loads of Giants fans in attendance – and appeared to energize the team. But he had a shot at his first touchdown on second-and-20 from the 29 and short-hopped a pass to a wide-open Stephen Hill in the end zone.
”I wanted to throw it to the pylon and low,” Tebow said, ”but I didn’t want to throw it that low.”
The Jets settled for Brown’s field goal that bounced off the right upright and over the crossbar to cut the deficit to 16-3 with 3:26 left in the third quarter.
It was the teams’ first meeting since Christmas Eve, when Victor Cruz’s 99-yard catch helped send the Giants on their Super Bowl run and the Jets into a disappointing offseason without a playoff appearance.
Tynes gave the Giants a 3-0 lead with a 35-yard field goal on a 12-play drive that was kept alive by a personal foul penalty on the Jets’ Joe McKnight – a sign of things to come for the home team. The running back rolled into punter Steve Weatherford and turned a fourth-and-5 from the Jets 25 to a first-and-10 from the 40.
McKnight got an earful from Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff on the sideline after the play.
Manning finished 7 of 14 for 62 yards, and was intercepted by LaRon Landry.
”I thought we had a couple good drives and moved the ball,” Manning said. ”We converted some third downs, had some opportunities, but didn’t get in the end zone. Whenever you play the Jets, you’re always going against a great defense.”
NOTES: Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw left the game after a cyst popped on his right hand, but X-rays were negative and he said he would be fine. LB Mark Herzlich suffered a hip pointer, and DE Adrian Tracy tweaked a hamstring on the Jets’ opening series of the half, and didn’t return. … Giants DE Adewale Ojomo, an undrafted free agent, had two sacks. … Jets P T.J. Conley had punts of 19 and 23 yards in the fourth quarter. … It was the Giants’ largest margin of victory over the Jets – preseason or regular season.