Mark Sanchez may have grown up more in the days between Weeks 1 and 2 than he did the whole offseason between years one and two.
The Jets converted just one third down in last Monday’s season-opening loss to the Ravens. Sanchez consistently threw under pressure on third down or attempted passes underneath in his final check down — tosses that were well short of the marker and simply put, way too safe.
Fast-forward to Sunday against New England and the Jets looked like a different team, boasting a 46 percent conversion rate on third down. Those key pick-ups not only kept the ball moving, but tipped the time of possession in the Jets’ favor, keeping the quick-strike Patriots’ offense off the field.
“I think it was great. I think we were rolling on most of our cylinders,” center Nick Mangold said. “On third down, we were much better. We executed a lot better and I think that obviously showed.”
The passing game, which went for just 74 yards in Week 1, stretched the New England defense down the field. Sanchez topped 200 yards passing for just the third time in the past 10 games. Sanchez, who tossed three touchdowns to three different receivers, looked comfortable in the pocket and had time to read and react to a Pats’ defense that surprised many in a dominating win over the Bengals in Week 1.
“I thought the protection was great. We were able to run the football, and we did a nice job in protection,” coach Rex Ryan said. “When we do that, [Sanchez] has all the talent in the world to make all the throws.”