With Joe Namath watching in the crowd, the New York Jets' newest franchise QB, Mark Sanchez, led his team to victory in his NFL debut, 24-7 over the Houston Texans. Just like last year, the Jets would start the new season on the road, with a new QB and a whole lot of optimism.
With head coach Rex Ryan also making his NFL debut, Sanchez looked strong against a sub-par Houston team, which failed to get any offensive points on the board. It would take Sanchez two series to get his team on the board, with a 16-play drive taking most of the first quarter, resulting in a 24-yard-field goal by Jay Feely.
A bit of luck would bounce the Jets' way early in the second when RB Steve Slaton would fumble on a 18-yard rush, which flew ever so gracefully into the hands of DE Mike DeVito. On the ensuing drive, Sanchez would need 10 plays to find a wide open Chansi Stuckey to put the Jets up 10-0.
With the TD, Sanchez became the first rookie in team history in almost nine years to throw one in their NFL debut. The last player to do it was Chad Pennington, now with the rival Miami Dolphins. The score would remain the same as the teams headed to the locker rooms.
The Jets would extend the lead with their first drive of the second half which saw Sanchez connect with Jerricho Cotchery for 25 yards as the biggest gain of the series, before Thomas Jones who was not getting more than a few yards prior to the drive ran in for the score. With the extra point the Jets would go up 17-0.
It wouldn't be until the fourth quarter that the Texans finally got one back. Sanchez would throw his first pick of the game to John Busing, who fumbled, but right next to teammate Dominque Barber, who returned it for 48 yards, cutting the score to 17-7.
The Jets would respond immediately, first with a Sanchez 40-yard pass, and then a 38-yard rush to the end zone for his second of the day to seal the 24-7 victory. The Jets now sit alone atop the AFC East as the Dolphins lost and the Patriots/Bills are the Monday Night showcase.
Upon Further Review
The new and improved Jets defense came up big yesterday as they allowed the Texans past midfield just once in the first three quarters. They completely shut down any form of offense Houston allegedly has, allowing just 183 total yards. While they only recorded two sacks, it appeared that Matt Schaub was on his back for the majority of the game, while his counterpart in Sanchez was hardly hit.
Leon Washington and Thomas Jones combined for 167 yards alone, with Washington getting more passes his way unlike last year. Sanchez finished with 272 yards in his debut and becomes the first Jet since Richard Todd to win his rookie career.
Next week will be a much bigger test, and possibly the last time that the Jets and Patriots battle at the Meadowlands.