Sanchez near-perfect in playoff debut
You’re only as good as your last game. And for Mark Sanchez and hopes for rookie redemption, the longer you postpone that finish is the better. It was only three weeks ago that the Jets were facing postseason disqualification. Fast forward to the present, and it’s Gang Green awaiting their next playoff opponent, after eliminating the Bengals 24-14 in the first round. On a personal scorecard between idol and longtime admirer, that translates to “Mark Sanchez 2, Carson Palmer 0”.
On Saturday, Mark Sanchez became just the fourth rookie quarterback in NFL history to earn a playoff victory. He did so with efficiency, finishing 12 of 15 for 182 yards and a score, for a passer rating of 139.4. As good as the numbers were, they could have been more inflated, if not for Braylon Edwards and his less than magical mittens failing to secure a long heave in the end zone. It was Edwards that came out publicly two weeks ago to say the Jets didn’t deserve to be in the playoffs. But through the arm of Sanchez, the legs of fellow rookie Shonn Green, and a stifling defense, New York has proven its worth and belonging.
Sanchez became the 10th quarterback from USC to start a playoff game. It took victories over another Trojan, Carson Palmer, in consecutive weeks to gain entry into the postseason and record his first playoff victory. Palmer finished Saturday’s game a miserable 18 for 36 for just 146 yards. He threw for one touchdown, but also added an interception. Palmer, Southern California’s first Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, will have the thumb on his throwing hand surgically repaired during the break. The injury occurred in week five, and he was fitted with a brace to play out the remainder of the season.
The next stop on the rookie redemption tour is unknown, pending the results of New England and Baltimore’s matchup on Sunday. But for Mark Sanchez and last impression, any destination is a good one, as long he is allowed another opportunity to erase old memories and create newer and longer lasting images to be judged upon.