Sanchez shook off the worst start of his young career by running for one touchdown and throwing for another, before taking time to munch on a snack in the closing minutes of a 38-0 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
Sanchez was criticized last week for looking dejected on the sideline while throwing five interceptions in an overtime loss to Buffalo. He was happy enough after this performance that he was caught by television cameras trying to discretely eat a hot dog at the end of the blowout.
“I want to apologize for that,” he said. “I wasn’t feeling very good and didn’t eat much before the game, so I was feeling a little queasy. Toward the end of the game, I probably should have eaten one of those bars or something, but someone offered (a hot dog), so I grabbed it and tried to be discreet about it, but obviously not discreet enough. So I shouldn’t have done that, and it won’t happen again.”
The game plan for the Jets (4-3) was to take pressure off Sanchez and they did just that by forcing four turnovers and becoming the first team in 34 years to run for at least 300 yards in two straight games. And that was after losing Leon Washington(notes) indefinitely to a broken right leg.
“It makes it so easy on the offense when your defense is playing like that,” Sanchez said. “Hats off to them, they had a heck of a game to shut that team out. I don’t care who we’re playing, that’s a big-time accomplishment for our team.”
It was so bad for Oakland that Russell, its former No. 1 overall pick, was benched in the first half after committing three early turnovers. This was the most lopsided home loss in the 50-year history of the Raiders (2-5). They were shut out at home for the fifth time ever, with four coming in the past four seasons. The crowd of 39,354 was the smallest since the team returned to Oakland in 1995.
Calvin Pace(notes) beat right tackle Khalif Barnes(notes) on the first play from scrimmage, sacking Russell and forcing a fumble that Marques Douglas(notes) recovered at the 4. Jones eventually scored from the 1 on fourth down.
Jim Leonhard(notes) then intercepted a badly overthrown ball by Russell, who was pressured by David Harris(notes), and returned it 44 yards to the 4. Two plays later, Sanchez scored on a 3-yard quarterback draw.
Sanchez got into the act passing the ball in the second half with a pretty 35-yard strike to David Clowney(notes), but by that point it didn’t really matter as the blowout was already on. Sanchez was 9 for 15 for 143 yards with no interceptions.
“Sanchez was great,” Ryan said. “He was just smart with the football. I think sometimes he could have put the ball on a receiver, but he was making sure the ball wasn’t intercepted. It was great to see him respond.”
The Raiders came in full of confidence following last week’s 13-9 victory over Philadelphia. The week got only better when the Napa County district attorney announced Thursday he would not file charges against Cable for an alleged attack on a former defensive assistant.
But any good feeling ended as soon as this game started, as Oakland lost by at least 20 points for the fourth time in five weeks.
Russell has committed 13 turnovers and completed just 46 percent of his passes in a horrific start to his third NFL season. He has been booed heavily in the past three home games and was finally benched late in the second quarter.
“I thought he was really out of sorts early in the game,” Cable said. “I just did not feel like at that point he gave us the best chance to have the success we needed to have offensively and made the move. JaMarcus will continue to be our starter. There is no issue there.”
Russell was 6 for 11 for 61 yards, with two interceptions and a fumble. He disagreed with his coach’s assessment, saying he felt just fine but that the results weren’t there.
“I’ve never been in that situation,” he said. “It was kind of shocking to me at first.”
NOTES: The Jets had lost all four of their games on the West Coast last season, including an overtime defeat in Oakland. … The last team to run for at least 300 yards in back-to-back weeks was Buffalo in 1975.