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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Jets’ Sanchez has enjoyed postseason success at a young age

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The history of the New York Jets is not exactly replete with sterling quarterback play.

Yes, Joe Namath orchestrated one of the great upsets in history and is in the Hall of Fame based on Super Bowl III and his flamboyant play on and off the field. But he only won two postseason games and actually had a losing record (60-61-4) as a starter with the Jets.

Chad Pennington won two playoff games. So did Richard Todd. Pat Ryan won one (against the 1986 Chiefs). As did Vinny Testaverde. And that’s it.

But Mark Sanchez is setting a whole new standard.

In leading the Jets to their second straight AFC championship game this week at Pittsburgh, Sanchez is 4-1 in his two-year postseason career, including Sunday night’s 28-21 win at New England. All four wins have come on the road.

“”Well, he only had a 127 (passer) rating—excuse me, 127.3,”” said Jets head coach Rex Ryan. “”But I’ll take it. The thing with this young man is he is just getting better. He’s just now getting better and better. He’s only in year two, and he’s won a bunch of playoff games. That might be a record for most road wins, or close to it.

“”Like I said last year, he’s not going to be looked at as the weakness of the team, but as the strength. And I think you are seeing that right now.””

Actually, Sanchez’ 127.3 passer rating against the Patriots was the second-best postseason rating of his career. His best mark was 139.4 against Cincinnati in the first round last year. But his three touchdown passes at New England were a postseason best for Sanchez.

“”It’s another playoff win, and it feels so good,”” said Sanchez, the Jets’ first-round draft pick in 2009. “”These playoff wins, they’re not easy to come by. That’s what all the older guys have told me … LaDainian (Tomlinson) and Jason Taylor … you don’t get these playoff wins like this in your first two years. It’s pretty unorthodox.

“”I’m proud of the fact that I got drafted to a great team, that I’ve had the opportunity to play in these big games, and I’m using this experience as we go into next week. But we can’t let up right now. It’s not time to get nostalgic and sit back and start thinking about this game. We’ve got to move on.””

In two playoff games this season, Sanchez has outdueled Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, completing 34 of 56 passes for 383 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Up next comes Ben Roethlisberger. Those three quarterbacks have a combined six Super Bowl rings.

Sanchez is trying to deliver the Jets their first Super bowl championship since Namath did it 42 years ago. He believes the Jets will benefit from going to the AFC championship game last year.

“”We know what it was like to play in a tough environment in (Indianapolis),”” Sanchez said. “”We knew that all of our games were going to be on the road because of our seed. We know how to play on the road; I think we’re better on the road, so that’s a huge help for us. We have a lot of experience doing it. We remember that bad taste after losing to the Colts in the AFC championship game, so we wouldn’t want that to happen again.

“”You get this far, they’re all good players. They’re all good quarterbacks. They’ll all have a great game plan. Their defense is tough, so it’ll be a great matchup, and we’re excited.””

The Jets won at Pittsburgh during the regular season, beating the Steelers 22-17 on Dec. 19. But Steelers star safety Troy Polamalu, who missed that game because of an injury, is back, so Sanchez knows it will be more difficult this time around.

“”That’s where my mind’s at already,”” Sanchez said while still in the Patriots’ locker room on Sunday evening. “”We saw them come back in the third and fourth quarter (against Baltimore) … and that’s a team … you can’t let up, like their coach, like their quarterback, like their defense.””

Sanchez, like Polamalu, played at the University of Southern California, so he is well-versed in Polamalu lore.

“”He is the ultimate playmaker,”” Sanchez said. “”From what I hear from guys at (USC) and coach (Pete) Carroll used to talk about him all the time, and he’s the ultimate teammate. He’ll do anything; he’ll sacrifice his body. He’ll kind of freelance out there and read your eyes. Especially a young quarterback, he’ll try to get after you early and rattle you.

“”So, I’m excited about the matchup against him, and he’s going to bring his best, and we’re going to need our best.””

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