With Season on the Line on Thanksgiving, Mark Sanchez Must Step Up for the Jets

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With Season on the Line on Thanksgiving, Mark Sanchez Must Step Up for the Jets
David Welker/Getty Images
The Jets need Mark Sanchez to take control in order to win Thursday.

In a career filled with inconsistency with the New York Jets, fourth-year quarterback Mark Sanchez has proven time and time again that he plays his best in the most crucial moments.

With nine fourth-quarter comebacks, 11 game-winning drives and four playoff victories, all on the road, Sanchez is certainly not a guy you can count out, even when he's having the worst of his games.

This year, however, has been a much different story. Sanchez has regressed even more this season, completing passes at a career-low 53.5 percent. He is 29th among all qualified QBs with a 73.4 passer rating. Many are still calling for Tim Tebow despite Rex Ryan, the Jets organization and the players giving Sanchez their vote of confidence.

No matter what you may think of Sanchez's ability and talent, he still is the best option at quarterback for the Jets to win. The offensive line, running game and receiving have all been poor, and injuries have made things worse.

Do you honestly think Tebow would do better, when he only completed 46.5 percent of his passes for a Denver team that Peyton Manning may very well take to the Super Bowl this year? Especially considering the Broncos' running attack and offensive line are much superior to the Jets'? 

New York snapped a three-game losing streak with a badly needed victory in St. Louis over the Rams. Sanchez had a solid performance, completing 15 of 20 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown. He had just his third game of the season without committing a turnover. 

The Jets will need more of Sanchez's magic down the stretch, especially on Thanksgiving Night in a showdown in the Meadowlands against the arch nemesis New England Patriots, who will be without Rob Gronkowski. His fellow tight end, Aaron Hernandez, who hasn't played since the teams' last meeting in Foxboro, could return.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images
New England will be without Rob Gronkowski and perhaps Aaron Hernandez, but they still will be tough to beat.

When the two teams met in October, they were both 3-3 and were struggling to hit their stride. The Pats led by 10 with less than six minutes left until the Jets came roaring back to score 13 unanswered to take a three-point lead.

However, in typical Tom Brady fashion, the Patriots' Hall of Fame quarterback led his team down the field to send the game into overtime and later take the lead. Linebacker Rob Ninkovich forced a Sanchez fumble the next possession to seal the victory for New England.

The Jets can only imagine where they would be right now had they escaped Foxboro with a huge win that day. They dropped their next two to the Dolphins and Seahawks before finally grabbing the victory in St. Louis this past Sunday.

The Patriots have since won their last three in dominating fashion over St. Louis and Indianapolis, with a close call at home against the Bills

Now, the Jets face a huge test which they cannot fail if they are to have a chance of rallying for a playoff berth. After this game, they will face the Cardinals at home, road games in Jacksonville and Tennessee and a Sunday night matchup at home against the Chargers before finally ending the regular season in Buffalo.

Much like last season, New England's secondary has been awful (30th in the league against the pass), but their defense against the run has been solid (10th in the league).

As for the Jets, yes, their offense has been atrocious. However, if they can somehow pull away and be able score enough so the defense can manage to keep Brady and the Pats' offense in check, they certainly with have a fighting chance in this game, much like their last meeting.

This isn't saying the Jets have a good chance of winning. The fact is that they can't afford not to if they want to have a chance of making the playoffs and perhaps saving Sanchez's and Ryan's jobs. They need Sanchez to step up big time on Thursday night. 

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