MARK SANCHEZ: A-
This slideshow starts right off with the most controversial performance and grade of the game. First of all, if anyone thinks the Jets would have done better with Tim Tebow or Greg McElroy against the Patriots they are sorely mistaken.
This was Sanchez's best performance of the year, considering the environment, magnitude of the game and deficit that the Jets faced. It wasn't a perfect game by any means, but it was a strong performance to be certain.
Sanchez finished 28-for-41 for 328 yards, one touchdown and one horrendous interception. Those numbers warrant at least a high B, but what boosts him up to an A- was his performance in the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter and overtime, Sanchez was 10-for-12 with his only two incompletions coming on drops.
The quarter started with Sanchez going 9-for-10 on a drive that was capped by a bullet of a touchdown pass to Dustin Keller to make the score 23-20, Patriots. He converted all three third-down attempts on the drive through the air.
The next drive started with a 21-yard pass to Keller and ended with the crucial drop by Stephen Hill. It resulted in the game-tying field goal.
Sanchez completed seven passes of 17 or more yards on the game, so this wasn't some kind of dink-and-dunk effort that makes his statistics look good.
There were four major gripes about Sanchez from this game.
First, his interception was unquestionably an awful throw.
No excuse for that.
Sanchez saw Hill late, bypassed a wide-open Shonn Greene and threw the ball flat-footed. The pass was underthrown and didn't even cover 45 yards in the air. A poor play indeed.
The fumble between Sanchez and Greene that resulted in a safety was partially Sanchez's fault as the ball was slipping out of his hand on the exchange. However, Greene shares some blame too as TV replays clearly show him take his eye off the ball to measure up an oncoming Vince Wilfork.
Another point of contention was the sack Sanchez took before the go-ahead field goal. First, Jeremy Kerley fell down on his route as Sanchez was about to throw him the ball. The first good move here was that Sanchez pulled the pass down. Because of the play's design, Kerley was really the only option.
The big argument with fans was that Sanchez then took a sack instead of throwing the ball away.
No matter what anyone says, that's the right play there. The seven yards didn't make a bit of difference to Nick Folk and it forced the Patriots to use their second timeout.
The final play to look at when examining Sanchez was the final play of the game. If you want to say that Sanchez needs to hold onto the ball no matter what, that's a fine point. How about the line doesn't let Jermaine Cunningham and Rob Ninkovich have free shots at Sanchez as he's trying to bail them out again?
It's a complex case for sure. Sanchez had his share of mistakes, but in the pecking order of things that went wrong this game, the play of the quarterback comes in very low on the list.
Tim Tebow: B-
Tebow didn't play the big role that was expected of him. He finished with 12 yards on four carries. There weren't many opportunities to insert Tebow into the game with Sanchez playing so well.