Sunday, December 8, 2013
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr. The Associated Press
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Dustin Keller stood in front of his locker for nearly 10 minutes and perhaps for the first time in months, wasn't asked about his two most popular New York Jets teammates.
Mark Sanchez was only as good as he had to be Sunday against Indianapolis, but at least the win prevented the New York media from further stoking the quarterback controversy.
The Associated Press
Nothing about Mark Sanchez.
Nothing about Tim Tebow.
"Hey, yeah," the Jets' tight end said Wednesday with a big smile. "Yeah, you're right. It's about time."
There was also no mention of either player during Coach Rex Ryan's news conference, a rarity for a team that has drawn an incredible amount of attention for months because of its popular backup quarterback. New York's quarterback controversy appeared ready to boil over just a few days ago. Now, it's back to a simmer, at least for this week.
Funny what a win can do. After all, Sanchez went out and put up a game Sunday against Indianapolis that will hardly rank among the best of his career.
He was 11 of 18 for only 82 yards. But he had two touchdowns and no turnovers, leading the Jets to a 35-9 win in which he led an offense that got back to its run-first philosophy under Tony Sparano with 252 yards on the ground, including a career-high 161 by Shonn Greene. The maligned offensive line also had its best game of the season.
"We've got to be balanced, I've always thought," Sanchez said. "The way we rushed it last week was nice. It makes my job easy, but if we need to throw it we'll throw it. Whatever we need to do to be efficient."
That approach took all the pressure off Sanchez as the New York-area tabloids have been more interested in his budding relationship with actress Eva Longoria than his quarterback rating. That, too, by the way, has gotten better after Sunday's performance, rising from an unsightly 66.6 to 70.9.
Now comes the big test for Sanchez and the rest of the offense: a showdown with AFC East rival New England on the road.
"They're always tough to play," Sanchez said. "They always bring their best. They find ways to win. So it's on us to take care of the football, hopefully keep on running the ball like we did last week and we'll see how things turn out."
The Patriots haven't particularly been Sanchez's favorite team to play, as evidenced by his 2-4 record against them in the regular season with eight touchdowns and nine interceptions. But he also had a terrific game at New England in the 2011 playoffs, a 28-21 win that put the Jets into their second straight AFC title game.
At stake Sunday is first place in the division, with all four teams deadlocked at 3-3. While the Jets are 101/2-point underdogs, they know exactly what they need to do in order to come out on top.
"You have to come out of the red zone with points," Sanchez said. New York scored on all five of its trips into the red zone Sunday against Indianapolis, finally resembling the offense that opened the season with a 48-28 win over Buffalo.
"I think we're getting better as a team," Tebow said. "I feel like we're given an opportunity to try and make the most of it. (We're) just working hard to get better every day and every week."
A lot of the criticism of the Jets through six games has been their scattered use of Tebow, who was expected to be a major part of the team's offense. Instead he has been used in only 44 offensive plays.
"I guess I didn't know what to expect," Tebow said of the offense Sunday.
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