Sanchez keeps Jets alive

New York still in play-off hunt after Buffalo win

Mark Sanchez silenced all his recent critics as he came up with a late touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes beat the Buffalo Bills 28-24 and keep the New York Jets’ desperate play-off pursuit alive.

Sanchez has been under scrutiny of late, and again he was not brilliant as he managed just 180 yards passing and threw an untimely interception, which was turned into a touchdown by Buffalo.

However, the Jets quarterback did show up when it mattered, and he threw a career-best four TD passes and led the late drive that resulted in that winning touchdown just a minute from the end.

It was a desperately needed victory for the Jets, as they move to 6-5 to keep pace with the AFC play-off fight, while Buffalo slipped to a fourth defeat despite a vastly improved performance and their season looks to have slipped away from them.

The Bills struck first as Ryan Fitzpatrick connected with David Nelson on an eight-yard score, but Sanchez responded by hitting tight end Dustin Keller for the first of his two scores of the game.


Steve Johnson then went in for the Bills, and mocked Jets wideout Plaxico Burress by pretending to shoot himself in the leg, just as Burress had done before ending up in prison – Johnson was flagged 15 yards for excessive celebrations.

Burress responded just a minute later, after Buffalo’s Dave Rayner had fluffed his kick-off attempt and Sanchez threw to Burress for a 14-yard TD score.

Dustin Keller got in again before former Jet Brad Smith scored against his former team after grabbing a huge slice of luck as he and Antonio Cromartie knocked the ball up in the air between them allowing Smith to grab it at the second attempt.

21-21 after three quarters, Buffalo then went ahead as Rayner made amends by booting a 53-yard field goal with just under ten minutes left to play.

With their season on the line, now was the time for Sanchez, who had been angered by coach Rex Ryan taking some first team action away from him in practice, to show up for his team.

Final word

And show up he did, firstly hitting Burress with an 18-yard throw when facing a crucial third-and-11 on Buffalo’s 36 yard line and the game well and truly on the line.

Burress showed superb balance and ability to grab the ball one-handed on the turn and haul it in to get the all-important first down.

Sanchez then rolled out to his right to avoid pressure and waited until Holmes found some room in the end zone to fire it into the corner for a 16-yard score.

The Bills were not done though, and Fitzpatrick threw a great strike to Johnson that the normally reliable receiver unexpectedly dropped when a big gain was gaping.

Johnson then dropped a chance at scoring when Fitzpatrick went long, and again the wideout was the target for the final act as the quarterback took a shot in the end zone but it was just too high for his grasp.