With just under two minutes left in the first half, an Antonio Cromartie 68-yard kick return, ending as Giants kicker Rhys Lloyd barely managed to push him out of bounds, had the Jets in great field position. A field goal on the previous drive had them down on the scoreboard 3-0, but Mark Sanchez was ready to come up with an answer.
Two plays after converting a 4th down attempt with a one-yard pass to Dustin Keller, Sanchez dropped back in the pocket from the 17-yard line. Santonio Holmes, lined up far right, ran a crisp post route into the end zone. Sanchez eyed his star receiver and favorite target, threading the needle perfectly to put the Jets ahead 7-3, a lead they would hold for the rest of the night.
While that play might have been the only notable highlight of the night for the third year quarterback, it once again showcases the future potential that he has. Mark Sanchez wasn’t a fifth overall draft selection in 2008 because of an illustrious college career. In fact, he had only played one season at USC as a starter, albeit a very impressive one. He was drafted because he showed potential, and the sky is the limit with Sanchez.
Last night’s performance wasn’t his best, with his completion percentage staying status quo at 50 percent, a statistic he has been working hard to improve over the offseason, and his yards-per-completion average at just eight. An 8-for-16 night with 64 yards and a touchdown is certainly not bad, but it is way too conservative.
Especially in a preseason game, you need to work on the downfield passing game. The dinks-and-dunks approach that Chad Pennington popularized during his time in New York is not what Mark Sanchez was brought in for.
In a game where “win or lose” is meaningless, it is a waste of time to play cautious football when you can instead open up your pass game and test it against a defense other than your own. In his last snaps before the regular season, Sanchez did nothing spectacular, but his ability to successfully manage a game stood out once again.
The statistics were not outstanding and there was only play worth noting, and when these two teams meet again in week 16, that one moment in this New York Jets victory will stand out: a cool, calm, and collected Mark Sanchez throwing an absolutely perfect touchdown pass to a tightly defended Santonio Holmes.