The 2011 season was when Mark Sanchez began to struggle. While his numbers were not terrible in 2011, throwing 26 touchdown passes for 3,474 yards. His interceptions on the other hand raised from 13 in 2010 to 18 in 2011. In addition to that, it was the first time in Sanchez’s career the team did not make the playoffs, finishing 8-8.
A memorable game in 2011 was week 1 on the 10 year anniversary of a major tragedy in the United States, a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, taking place on 9/11/01. The Jets took on Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys. The Jets were down in this game 24-10, as Tony Romo and the Cowboy’s offense looked very good. But, Mark Sanchez led the Jets back by hitting newly acquired wide receiver Plaxico Burress for a 26 yard touchdown pass to make it 24-17. The Jets would then tie the game with about 5 minutes left on a Joe McKnight blocked punt returned for a touchdown by Isaiah Trufant, tying the game. With around a minute left in this game, the Cowboys had the ball until Tony Romo was picked off by Darrelle Revis, and he returned this into Cowboys territory. That would eventually set up a Nick Folk field goal to make it 27-24 Jets with around half a minute left. The defense would stop the Cowboys, as the Jets scored 17 unanswered to win the first game of the season. This is what happened during the better part of Mark Sanchez’s career. Whether it’d be him or another player, someone would make a big play down the stretch to lead the team to victory. In this case, Joe McKnight with the blocked punt and Darrelle Revis with the big interception.
To fast forward in the season, the Jets were 8-5 with 3 games to go, and looked like they were headed to the playoffs for a 3rd straight season. However, Mark Sanchez’s career seemed to go down hill from there. They went into Philadelphia to take on the Eagles, and got blown out, 45-19. The following week, the team was still in playoff contention taking on the other New York team, the Giants. A matchup on Christmas Eve, it was a must win for both teams. On a 3rd and 10 on the Giants own 1 with over 2 minutes to go in the 1st half, the Jets were up 7-3. That was until a play that still haunts Jets fans to this day. Eli Manning hit Victor Cruz for what appeared to be a 10 yard completion, but Cruz would make some moves and take it 99 yards for a touchdown, giving the Giants a 10-7 lead. The Jets later on were down 20-7, but would then cut it to 20-14 midway through the 4th quarter. However, the Giants would close it out and win by a score of 29-14. Eventually the Giants would go on to win the Super Bowl that year, but the Victor Cruz play was a turning point in each team’s season. Good for the Giants, but bad for Mark Sanchez and the Jets.
Going into the final game of the season, the Jets still had a slim chance of making the playoffs. However they needed help from other teams and of course they had to win their own game at Miami against the Dolphins. The game was a frustrating one, but the Jets were still in it. However, Santonio Holmes had a rough go, going at it with several teammates. The Jets would eventually lose the game 19-17, putting the final touch on a major collapse by a team that had been rolling. You could sense trouble with this franchise after this collapse of losing 3 in a row, and if you did, you were not wrong.
In 2012, the team had a rough go, as did Mark Sanchez. I’m sure Mark Sanchez would say this was the worst season of his career. He threw 13 touchdown passes to 18 interceptions for 2,883 yards. His numbers were going backwards again, and the team overall just never got it going. Of course in 2012, with the Denver Broncos signing Peyton Manning, the Jets traded for quarterback Tim Tebow. Some say this may have put pressure on Mark Sanchez. Tebow did not find much production, coming off a playoff win for the Broncos the year before. There’s only 1 game to highlight in that season, and I’m sure every football fan knows this game and has probably laughed about it. The Jets were 4-6, and set to host the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving as the night game. As a Jet fan, you looked at it if as they needed to win their remaining 6 games to make the playoffs. Well, the team got manhandled by the Patriots on this particular Thanksgiving night. The game was 0-0 going into the 2nd quarter, but then chaos occurred. The Patriots got off to a 14-0 lead, and the Jets had the ball. On a blown play, Sanchez went to hand the ball off with no one there. As a result, Mark Sanchez panicked and ran, hitting his teammate, linemen Brandon Moore’s backside, and fumbling. Not only did this humiliating fumble occur, New England’s Steve Gregory would pick up the ball and take it for a touchdown. The play would be known as “the Butt Fumble,” and unfortunately it is a play that no one will ever forget. The play seemed like it was on SportCenter’s not top 10 forever. The Patriots would win this game 49-19, scoring 35 points in that 2nd quarter and the season went on to be another waste for the Jets. They finished the season 6-10, and fans were starting to get frustrated with Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan.
2011 and 2012 were tough seasons for Mark Sanchez. He was going pretty well in 2011 until the team lost 3 in a row. In 2012 the team just never got anything going, leading to arguably Mark Sanchez’s worst season. Mark Sanchez had given Jets fan so many great moments in his 1st 2 seasons, but he continued to take steps back in these 2 years. 2009 and 2010 were great, but what a difference that occurred the next 2 seasons in 2011 and 2012. Unfortunately, during Mark Sanchez’s tenure as a Jet, “the Butt Fumble” is the only play many football fans remember. He gave the team 2 great seasons, but the team started to make lousy mistakes, and were becoming an embarrassment. Mark Sanchez would hope to bounce back in 2013.
All stats via Pro-Football-Reference.