Sanchez can't come through vs. Pats 'D'

556698.jpg

Sanchez can't come through vs. Pats 'D'

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn FOXBORO The career of New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has been filled with ups and downs, to say the least. And no opponent seems to best illustrate how wonderful or wickedly bad Sanchez can be than the New England Patriots.

On Sunday, Sanchez was solid for most of the night, but against the Patriots, that wasn't enough as New England took control in the first half and never looked back in defeating the Jets, 30-21.

With the loss, the Jets (2-3) are now a full two games behind Buffalo (4-1) and New England (4-1) for the best record in the AFC East.

"I never thought we'd have a three-game losing streak like this," Sanchez said.

The play of Sanchez certainly didn't lose the game for the Jets on Sunday, but it didn't exactly help, either. The numbers he registered for the game are pretty respectable: 16-for-26 passing with 166 yards and two touchdowns.

But just as significant are the yards that Sanchez's receivers didn't get, courtesy of some less-than-stellar throws. On several occasions, Sanchez threw behind a receiver, which forced them to slow down, catch the ball and then try to run down field. By the time they collected the catch, New England defenders were in position to prevent them from getting too many yards after the catch.

While New England's defense didn't exactly shut Sanchez down, they seemed to apply enough pressure at just the right time to throw his rhythm off.

"As a defense, you always hope that you can get a quarterback just never to get comfortable in the game," said Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty. "That's when, when quarterbacks get in their comfort zone, they start picking you apart."

Sanchez never got to that point on Sunday, which is surprising when you consider how just about every quarterback to face the Patriots this season has put up big numbers. Remember, this is the same Patriots defense that came into Sunday's game with the league's worst pass defense. New York's insistence on having a balanced attack certainly played a major role in Sanchez not having a huge passing game.

In the past, Sanchez's play was often the barometer in gauging who would win between the Jets and Patriots.

Prior to Sunday's loss, Sanchez was 3-2 against the Patriots. In the three wins, he was 51-for-77 passing (66.3 percent) for 577 yards and seven touchdowns. In the two losses, he completed less than 50 percent of his passes with one touchdown and seven interceptions.

So for him to have such a solid performance on Sunday and still lose was a bit of a surprise.

"We lost the game," Sanchez said. "So it's hard for me to get into stats or anything like that."

Sanchez is more concerned - as are all of the Jets players - with finding a way to reverse their losing ways of late. It'll take a number of players to step up their play, Sanchez included.

New York wide receiver Plaxico Burress is in his first season with Sanchez and the Jets. So far, he likes what he has seen from the third-year quarterback.

"He's good; working hard to get better," said Burress, who had three catches for 42 yards on Sunday. "We're trying to put him in situations to have some success, to go out and play well. He did that. We just all have to come together and work hard to help him get better. Because as he goes, we go."
A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Floyd looks to improve rapport with Brady: 'Tom likes things a certain way'

patriots-floyd-122416.jpg

Floyd looks to improve rapport with Brady: 'Tom likes things a certain way'

FOXBORO -- Michael Floyd has been with the Patriots for about a month, and he admits he still has a lot to learn.

Specifically when it comes to his rapport with Tom Brady, Floyd knows there's room for improvement. Against the Texans last weekend, he was targeted three times. One led to a pick. Another was almost picked. One was caught for nine yards. 

On the intercepted pass and the near-interception, Floyd ran slant routes from the left side of the Patriots formation, but he appeared to run them in ways that Brady didn't anticipate. Instead of coming back toward the ball as it approached, Floyd leaked up the field, perhaps hoping to turn what would be an intermediate gain into a bigger play. 

On WEEI earlier this week, Brady took the blame for the pick. But Floyd shouldered his share of responsibility for the turnover on Wednesday.

"You just gotta come downhill," he said. "Obviously at this time of the year, a lot of guys are really checked in on film work and how you play and splits and stuff like that. You gotta make sure you're really fundamentally sound and come downhill to every single ball."

It's one of many lessons Floyd has tried to absorb since being claimed off of waivers by the Patriots in mid-December.

In the regular-season finale against the Dolphins, he looked to be learning at an impressive rate as he caught three passes for 36 yards and laid a monster block that helped spring Julian Edelman for the longest touchdown reception of his career. 

As he prepared for the AFC title game, though, he acknowedleged that he has a way to go -- particularly when it comes to understanding the nuances of how his ever-demanding quarterback wants things done.

"I've only been here a month so I think that's every single day," Floyd said of getting to know Brady's preferences. "I gotta keep my head in the playbook and ask questions. That's what I do every single day. There's nothing wrong about asking a question. They see that I'm the new guy here, and I -- for the most part -- get all the answers that I need."

He added: "Tom likes things a certain way. Me being the new guy, or any of us, we make sure that we do it that way."

Patriots-Steelers practice report: Full participation for Pats

Patriots-Steelers practice report: Full participation for Pats

Wednesday's practice participation/injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

DID NOT PRACTICE
RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
TE Ladarius Green (concussion)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)

FULL PARTICIPATION
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)