Updated: 9/20/10 6:52 a.m.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Mark Sanchez was in total control, coolly leading New York’s offense down the field as the clock ticked away.
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots? They weren’t going to stop the Jets from getting back on track in a big way.
“This is exactly the way we know how to play,” Sanchez said, “the way I knew I can play.”
Looking more like Brady than even the record-breaking quarterback himself, Sanchez threw a career-high three touchdown passes and the Jets overcame the loss of Darrelle Revis to beat their AFC East rivals 28-14 on Sunday.
“I think it was our day today,” Sanchez said.
Six days after an awful outing in a season-opening loss to Baltimore last Monday night, Sanchez completed a career-best 21 passes on 30 attempts for 220 yards and connected with Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller for scores.
“We never stopped believing in him,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said.
But some might have stopped buying into what Ryan said all summer: that the big-talking stars of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” were bound for the Super Bowl this season.
“We did a lot of talking,” running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. “But at some point, you’ve got to prove it. That’s what it was about today.”
The victory over the Patriots (1-1) capped a tumultuous week for the Jets (1-1), who were investigated by the NFL for the treatment of a female reporter at practice last weekend. Commissioner Roger Goodell ruled that the Jets’ conduct was unprofessional but there was no sexual harassment, and owner Woody Johnson apologized to TV Azteca reporter Ines Sainz.
If the Jets were distracted, they certainly didn’t show it in this one. They frustrated Brady, mostly shut down Randy Moss and Wes Welker, and came up with a win they felt they sorely needed.
“We didn’t want to go 0-2 and 0-1 in our division,” right tackle Damien Woody said. “Yeah, it was a must-win, no question about it.”
With Brady trying to muster a late comeback against his rivals, Jason Taylor sacked him and knocked the ball out of his hands with just over 4 minutes left and Bryan Thomas recovered.
“We couldn’t do anything in the second half,” Brady said. “We had a hard time gaining yards. We didn’t do anything on third down, we couldn’t gain anything on first or second down. We couldn’t run it. We couldn’t throw it.
“We just (stunk). That’s what it comes down to.”
The Jets then ran the ball out to seal the victory. But, they may have some more concerns now. Revis, New York’s All-Pro cornerback, left in the second quarter after Moss made a jaw-dropping, one-handed 34-yard TD catch. Revis tweaked his left hamstring after being limited by it all week. He said it wasn’t a pull or a tear, but wasn’t sure how long he might be sidelined.
“I’m a little sore,” he said, his left leg wrapped in ice. “It’s not so much pain, but just a little sore from running on it.”
Sanchez connected with Cotchery for a 2-yard touchdown pass with 38 seconds left in the third quarter, and Edwards caught the 2-point conversion toss to give the Jets their first lead of the game at 21-14.
Tomlinson had a pretty 31-yard run, showing plenty of zip, to put the Jets at the Patriots 4 and set up the score. He finished with 76 yards rushing and caught four passes for 26 yards.
Helped by two pass interference calls on Darius Butler, the Jets took a 28-14 lead on Keller’s 1-yard catch with 6:09 remaining.
“We had a lot of expectations coming into this game – coming out of here with a victory – and we ended up coming out with a loss,” said Moss, held to two catches. “This one hurts.”
Brady finished 20 for 36 for 248 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“It’s going to be a long week, I can promise you that,” Brady said.
Moss, who took exception to Revis calling him a “slouch” in January, made an incredible catch in front of the cornerback to become the fourth NFL player to reach 150 career touchdowns. Moss reached out with his right hand and snagged Brady’s pass over his shoulder – with Revis trailing behind him – to make it 14-7 with 53 seconds left in the half.
It ended up being the Patriots’ final bright spot.
“I didn’t learn a whole lot,” Ryan said. “I think a lot of other people learned that we are a lot tougher than they think.”
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