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Sanchez Gets Comfy, Jets Outlast Giants, 27-25


2009 Preseason Week 3 - Jets at Giants Photos

Mark Sanchez was solid and the Jets' defense was opportunistic as the Green & White disposed of the crosstown-rival Giants, 27-25, Saturday evening at the Meadowlands. In the final game between these teams at this venue, the Jets moved to 1-2 in the summer and got Rex Ryan his first win as their head coach.

"I was going to give myself a game ball, but after we blew two or three coverages in that fourth quarter, I decided not to give myself a game ball," Ryan said.

Making his second start in five nights, Sanchez didn't have any deer-in-the-headlights moments against Big Blue. The rookie, who played well into the third quarter, completed 13 of 20 passes for 149 yards and led the Jets to 20 points. His 31-yard scoring pass to Chansi Stuckey gave the Jets their first lead at 14-13 and they didn't trail after that.

"It was a great experience," Sanchez said after leaving the game. "I think more than anything I just had to get settled down there late in the first quarter. I felt like I was pressing a little bit, going through things a little too fast. I think we could've had more points out there early. But as soon as I got settled down and just relaxed, the guys in the huddle calmed me down a little bit and I was ready to play and started seeing things very clearly."

In the final extended look for the starters before the Jets' regular season commences Sept. 13 in Houston, the Green & White defense turned the Giants over twice in the opening 30 minutes. This was a sloppy contest throughout as the Jets were officially charged with 12 infractions that cost them 107 yards.

The Jets didn't get this one started off on the right foot. After losing the coin toss, the normally reliable Jay Feely booted the opening kickoff out of bounds. And the Giants, taking over at the their own 40, drove 60 yards and 10 plays on a drive that culminated on Eli Manning's 8-yard scoring pass to RB Brandon Jacobs.

But the Green & White made it hard on themselves, committing back-to-back offside penalties by OLB Bryan Thomas and then NT Kris Jenkins as a third-and-6 from the 16 turned into first-and-goal from the 6. Manning had all day to survey the field before finding Jacobs in the corner of the end zone behind LB Bart Scott.

It easily could have been a two-touchdown game in the opening quarter because Steve Smith dropped what was probably going to be a 90-yard TD as he was in the open field and behind CB Lito Sheppard. The D quickly rebounded from its rough beginning, though, forcing a critical takeaway on the Giants' second possession. Wide receiver Domenik Hixon, perhaps hearing Scott's footsteps, dropped a ball that David Harris intercepted at the Giants' 27-yard line.

Taking over in enemy territory, the Jets would even things up on a 1-yard Thomas Jones plunge on fourth-and-goal. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer caught the Giants coming upfield on third-and-2 from the 19 and the Jets perfectly executed a short pass to Jerricho Cotchery and the result was a 14-yard gain.

Down, 10-7, in the second quarter, the defense prevented further damage when Scott not only forced a Jacobs fumble but recovered the ball at the Jets' 29.

"You want to set the edge, fall back and the ball will be exposed," said the Madbacker. "So I set the edge, fell back and saw it there. You got to take it out. I wanted it more than he wanted it."

Lawrence Tynes' second field goal, a 26-yarder, gave the "home" team a 13-7 advantage, but it wouldn't last long.

If you wanted to know why the Jets moved up in the draft to grab Sanchez with the No. 5 overall selection, you saw it midway through the second quarter. He held on to the ball long enough for Chansi Stuckey to get absolutely free on a cross, hooking up with Stuck for 29 as the Jets moved into enemy territory.

"It was actually a go route," Stuckey said. "They (the Giants) played it differently than what we've seen. We were definitely on the same page and we were able to make a play."

Then that combo hit pay dirt two plays later as Sanchez used his great feet to backpedal and run from a trio of Giants' defenders before hitting Stuckey for 31-yard score. Stuckey (four catches, 69 yards) finished the last 12 yards himself, juking and driving before crossing the goal line.

"That's just one of those plays where you know what routes are coming and you know the coverage," Sanchez said. "They're in man-to-man coverage and Stuckey is running all the way across the field and it's tough on a defender to run with somebody all the way across the field like that. The O-line held up just enough and I put in a spot where only he could get it and it was one of those plays where you get hit when you're throwing it and you can't really see what's going on and you just kind of listen." 

"It was incredible," added Stuckey. "He just gave me a good ball — he didn't put it out of bounds. He put it close enough to where defenders or whoever who was behind me couldn't make a play. I just think it speaks volumes about the type of presence he has when he's on the field."

The Jets took a 17-13 lead at the break after Feely was true from 42 yards out. A penalty on the last play of the half — their eighth in the first two quarters — prevented another Feely attempt.

After some strong Leon Washington running in the third, Sanchez threw a beauty of a toss on a skinny post to Jerricho Cotchery for a 28-yard gain. It was a throw that showcased the rook's arm, letting a bullet go through a tight window. That play set up Feely's third field goal, a 25-yard make, and Sanchez's night was done.

"They're (the players are) proud that he's our quarterback and he did a great job today," Ryan said of his young signal caller.

The Giants got close on a 22-yard TD pass from David Carr to rookie wideout Hakeem Nicks in the fourth. But the Jets answered, getting one for "88 and out the gate" as Erik Ainge went to Aundrae Allison for a 70-yard score. Carr and Nicks (6-144-2 TDs) came right back to make it a two-point game as the North Carolina alum broke free on a busted coverage and waltzed home for a 71-yard TD. After both of their final-quarter touchdowns, the G-Men elected to go for two but they came up empty both times.

New York's AFC representative, buoyed by the preseason debuts of RT Damien Woody, CB Darrelle Revis and NT Kris Jenkins, was almost back at full strength for this contest. Rookie RB Shonn Greene (ribs) didn't dress while the Giants were missing three regulars in MLB Antonio Pierce, WLB Michael Boley and CB Aaron Ross.

Next Thursday, the Green & White will play host to the Philadelphia Eagles in both teams' preseason finale. It will be an interesting way to close out the exhibition slate as Michael Vick will probably see a lot of action for the Birds.

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