SEATTLE (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mark Sanchez’s reunion with Pete Carroll became another performance he would rather forget.
And it left coach Rex Ryan again defending his decision about who the Jets’ quarterback should be in what has become a lost season in New York.
“I know this is a common theme, you know if it was on one guy it’s easy to fix, but it’s much more we’ve had protection break downs, dropped passes, guys aren’t getting open, there are other things involved in it,” Ryan said. “So again, yeah, we’ll stick with Mark and we know he has to get better and everyone around him has to get better — coaches, players, everybody.”
Seattle rookie Russell Wilson threw two touchdown passes, Marshawn Lynch ran for 124 yards and Seattle’s defense pitched a shutout in a 28-7 rout of the Jets on Sunday.
After the game — as it has been following nearly every loss this season — most of the focus was on Sanchez and whether backup quarterback Tim Tebow will soon get a shot to run the offense.
“I believe we can win with Mark and I believe we can win with (Tim) Tebow, but I’m not going to let you or anyone else convince me otherwise,” said Ryan. “This is how I feel. It gives us the best opportunity to win games, and that’s the only reason I make any move.”
One reporter persisted, getting under Ryan’s skin.
“Well, that’s what I believe,” said the coach. “It’s what I believe to be the truth. Why do I believe it? Because I believe it. I don’t care what you think or what anybody else (thinks). I believe it. In my heart, I believe it.”
Sanchez finished 9 of 22 for 124 yards. Tebow ran four times for 14 yards, and was 3 of 3 passing for 8 yards. Even with an extra week to scheme for the Seahawks (6-4), Tebow was of no help to the offense.
Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who last week guaranteed a playoff berth, had a message for Sanchez’s detractors.
“They can kiss my a–,” Cromartie said. “Mark is our quarterback. At the end of the day, we couldn’t give a damn what anybody has to say on the outside. Mark’s our quarterback and will continue to be our quarterback. There’s not going to be no division.”
Sanchez threw a costly interception at the goal line in the first half, then fumbled at the Seattle 32 on a blitz from Richard Sherman and Seattle’s Jason Jones recovered midway through the fourth quarter. That led to Seattle’s final punctuation to its fifth win at home this season when wide receiver Golden Tate threw a 23-yard TD to Sidney Rice on a reverse pass.
Afterward, Sanchez insisted he’s not worried about losing his job as starter.
“That never really crosses my mind,” said Sanchez. “I’m too confident for that. We’ve won too many games together. We’ve had some great success here, so I don’t expect anything different. It’s my job to keep playing, play hard and make better decisions and help this team win.”
New York’s only touchdown came when Muhammad Wilkerson returned a fumble 21 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Otherwise, it was a bevy of breakdowns, turnovers and poor decisions from the Jets, who are now off to their worst start since 2007.
“I don’t know how many more losses you can spot somebody before you think they make the playoffs. It’s about a two percent chance at making the playoffs with the record we have and we are going to take that shot,” Ryan said. “I know one thing, there is not one quit in any of these guys, there is no chance of that. We are going to get after it and find a way to get better. We’ve been working at it. Been working our tails off, just hasn’t gone our way yet.”
Coming off their bye, this was an opportunity for the Jets (3-6) to try and make a late-season charge and reinvigorate an offense that was stymied by Miami in a 30-9 loss before getting a week off.
The performance didn’t get any better. In fact, it regressed against Seattle’s sticky defense that held the Jets to just 73 yards of offense in the second half and sacked Sanchez three times.
“We hung tough. We weren’t playing very well early and some things happened and we hung tough and kept punching away at it,” Carroll said. “We finally put together a real good finish.”
It looked promising for the Jets when they got their first fumble return for a touchdown since 2009. Mike DeVito hit the scrambling Wilson, who held the ball too long. The loose ball bounced perfectly into Wilkerson’s arms and he rumbled for the TD. It was the first fumble returned for a touchdown against the Seahawks since 2009.
Seattle’s problems keeping possession weren’t done. Lynch fumbled on the first play of the second quarter at the New York 40, his first lost fumble in a year. Lynch sat on the bench with his headband pulled over his face in disgust.
Lynch’s fumble nearly became the turning point for the Jets. Tebow converted a third down with a 3-yard keeper, then Sanchez found Jeremy Kerley for 43 yards to the Seattle 7 on a blown coverage.
But on third-and-goal Sherman baited Sanchez into throwing across the field, where the Seahawks cornerback stepped in to steal his fourth interception of the season.
“Just a bad decision. Just trying to play out too long and got greedy,” Sanchez said. “That kind of stuff happens when you do that. It’s my job to move on to the next play, kick a field goal, get us some points and get out of there. That was the start of the turn of things going bad and I (have) got to play better than that so that’s on me.”
Faced with third-and-goal at the 6 showed another example of the Jets making simple errors. Originally the play was to be snapped at the 1 and called for Tebow to keep on a counter draw, a play everyone in white and green believed would be a touchdown. But Dustin Keller was called for a false start and changed the play call.
“If I punch that one in there at the goal line we are up 14-7 it’s a lot different game,” Tebow said. “We can keep managing the game how our offense is best suited and our defense is playing good that gives them a bit more momentum and you’ve got to continue to inspire those guys by putting up points, so that just kind of changes everything.”
While Sanchez’s interception was critical, just as costly a turnover came when Jeremy Kerley muffed a punt that was recovered by Seattle’s Kam Chancellor. The Seahawks quickly capitalized, converting a second-and-15 when Wilson threw a backhanded screen pass under heavy pressure to Lynch for 27 yards. Lynch finally plowed in from the 1 to give the Seahawks a 14-7 halftime lead.
In the second half, the Seahawks relied more on the bullying style of Lynch, who topped 1,000 yards for the season when he bounced off tacklers for an 18-yard run in the fourth quarter. Lynch had 85 yards rushing in the second half.
“We can’t continue to help people win games,” Jets’ safety Yeremiah Bell said. “That’s what we’re doing. We’re putting ourselves in a bad position and it’s hurting us.”
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