You know, I’m trying to stay level-headed today. I keep telling myself, “It’s only one game, it’s only one game.” Lots of quarterbacks have had one great game. Hell, a journeyman named Scott Mitchell once had three great games, got a huge contract, then stunk up the field for the next two years.
But man, Sunday afternoon my New York Jets’ latest “savior” quarterback had a hell of a debut. A smashing, bang-up debut, one that had all the critics (well, me and every other Jets fan who are conditioned to be critical after 40 years of mostly losing) shaking our heads in wonder.
Mark Sanchez played like a 10-year veteran in leading my beloved Green and White to a stunningly convincing 24-7 win over the Houston Texans, heretofore thought to be a pretty good team. Sanchez stepped up in the pocket to avoid the rush. He made smart, accurate throws. He scrambled when he had to. He held on to the ball when his receivers were covered and he didn’t try to be Superman, forcing a ball into triple-coverage.
In short (which, incidentally, is what I am), he was awesome. The Jets’ offensive line was awesome, giving Sanchez all kinds of time. Leon Washington, who you will soon learn is my favorite Jet, was terrific, too. Thomas Jones, who did nothing in the first half, had two huge runs in the second half to help salt the game away.
And man, what a start for the Jets defense. They were flying all over the place. New coach Rex Ryan came in with a lot of expectations on him, to make the defense great and blitz and force turnovers and all that stuff he did with the Baltimore Ravens.
Well, so far, so great. The Jets forced two turnovers, harassed Houston QB Matt Schaub into all kinds of hurried throws and sacked him twice, and tackled as well as the Jets have tackled in years. Darrelle Revis, the star DB, completely shut down Texans wideout Andre Johnson.
Very, very satisfying opening win, right up there as openers go with the win at Tennessee a few years back, and the mauling of Seattle in Bill Parcells’ first game in 1997.
The bullies from New England come into the Meadowlands next week. I’m certain Sanchez will make a few mistakes in that one, since Bill Belichick is known for confusing young quarterbacks.
But I really like what I see from this kid; after his one huge mistake, an interception returned for a touchdown, he didn’t get nervous or suddenly make tentative throws; he fired a laser to Dustin Keller on 3rd down on the next drive for a huge first down. The kid seems to have moxie and swagger (Moxie and Swagger, weren’t those two of the dudes in Billy the Kid’s gang?), and you have to love what he showed Sunday.
Couple other quick thoughts on Sunday’s NFL games:
– Poor Bengals. They’re down 6-0 to Denver, finally score with 35 seconds to go to take the lead 7-6, and it looks like they’re going to win. Then Denver hits a miracle play, off a deflection that just happens to land in Brandon Stokely of the Broncos’ hands, and he goes all the way for the winning touchdown.
All I can say is, Bengals fans, I’ve been there.
– Boy am I glad I drafted Drew Brees with my first pick in both fantasy leagues I’m in. Six touchdowns? Yeah, I’ll take that every week.
– Don’t overreact to Week 1, but the Panthers and Browns appear to stink, the Chiefs and Lions may not stink as much as we thought, while Philly and Indy are going to be pretty damn good again.
Finally, check out my penultimate U.S. Open tennis blog here, and watch this amazing shot (below) by Roger Federer in his semifinal win. This was maybe one of the two or three best shots I’ve ever seen Roger ever hit; my jaw hit the floor. Federer later called it the best shot he’s ever hit, and you can tell by his reaction how excited he was.
P.S. As usual, my favorite sports writer Joe Posnanski has written an entire, beautiful column about this Federer shot; check it out here. In it, he makes a fantastic point that I completely agree with: The more you know about tennis, the more you appreciate how amazing Federer is.