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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn