EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It was one of the few times you'll see Mark Sanchez publicly get angry. Good for him. Glad to see it.
The game would end with a bashing of Kansas City as the Chiefs put on one of the most chicken salad performances of the NFL season. But it started with a New York Jets miscue. On the first offensive play of the game, the Jets inserted the wrong personnel, and Sanchez was forced to call a timeout as the play clock ran down toward zero.
"That wasn't great," said coach Rex Ryan.
Later in the first half, there again appeared to be some confusion and Sanchez again had to burn a timeout. After calling it, the Jets quarterback turned to wide receiver Jeremy Kerley and yelled. Then, as Sanchez reached the Jets sideline, he yelled again at no one in particular.
Sanchez makes mistakes. Sanchez throws his picks, but he also catches heat for the ineptitude around him, namely offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. When an offense has to burn a timeout on the first play and then another for similar reasons, that's not the quarterback, and who can blame Sanchez for being furious. Sanchez and the Jets would recover just fine, running a nice offensive game against a horrible opponent. Sanchez had just four incompletions and two touchdowns in 17 attempts in the first half, and he became the first Jets quarterback ever to throw for two scores and run for two in a game.
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The 37-10 final wasn't indicative of how this game went for the Jets. If they had kept pressing, they could have won 50-3.
"I would say this is our best game of the year," Ryan said.
The only bit of bad news was the loss of safety Jim Leonhard. While Ryan said he didn't know the extent of Leonhard's injury, several Jets players said after the game they were told Leonhard was out for the season with a knee injury. Cornerback Darrelle Revis said it outright. Leonhard looked like he severely hyperextended the knee when making an interception. On the other end of the performance spectrum was Kansas City. This is what it looks like when a team no longer cares. The Chiefs don't. They want to go home, eat some good food and count the days until the end of the season and the return of Mad Men. That's it, that's all.
Teams are accused of quitting all the time in pro sports, and many times, it's false. Few athletes actually do it. It's not in their nature. But the Chiefs did. The Jets offense, not exactly a juggernaut, outgained the Chiefs 253 yards to 4 in the first half. That's 4. F-f-f-four. Santa's belly could fall forward and gain 4 yards.
Yes, Tyler Palko is not an NFL quarterback, but there is no excuse for that kind of offensive ineptitude except lack of effort. At the half, Sanchez had a 149.4 rating; Palko's was 6.2.
To make matters worse, the Kansas City coaching staff was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. They were joined by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by Le'Ron McClain. Again, when a team doesn't care, composure goes first.
New York's fifth touchdown drive went 91 yards, and 81 of them came because of a cascade of Chiefs penalties that included multiple pass interference calls, roughing the passer and unsportsmanlike conduct. Losing badly is like a box of chocolates -- you never know what you're going to get.
If coach Todd Hailey gets fired -- and that is a real possibility after this modern art masterpiece -- this might be the game pointed to as the one that cost him his job.
The Chiefs are so bad, David Stern just sent them back to the AFL. Bad, yes, and the Jets' opponents since their Week 8 bye have indeed been terrible. New York has beaten Buffalo twice, Washington and the Chiefs while losing to New England and Denver.
The Jets win ugly, but they win and it's interesting how Sanchez is criticized for winning the same way Tim Tebow does.
Are the Jets going to win the Super Bowl? Probably not, but this team is again getting slightly hot at just the right time. "We understand the importance of winning these games late in the season," Sanchez said.
No, the Jets aren't perfect, but Sanchez and his team might be readying one of those classic late-in-the-year Sanchez runs.