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Sanchez makes mark on short passes

Faced with the possibility of a third straight loss and having gone since November 25 without scoring an offensive touchdown, the New York Jets eschewed a temptation to over-think things and instead kept the offensive game plan simple. As a result, the Jets picked up their first win in Pittsburgh in eight tries and got back on track for the playoffs.

The Jets returned the opening kick for a touchdown, which was their first since Week 12 against the Bengals. The only other Jets touchdown came on a Mark Sanchez run. That touchdown was the Jets first offensive TD in 12 quarters. While the return of the Jets offense did not occur in spectacular fashion, it was quarterback Mark Sanchez’s conservative approach that resulted in the win.

Mark Sanchez Passing 14 Yards or Fewer 2010 Season

Sanchez was quietly effective on Sunday, completing 65.5 percent of his passes, his second-highest single-game mark this season. Sanchez did this by taking fewer shots downfield and not throwing an interception, something he had done in every game since Week 5 against the Minnesota Vikings.

The Jets exploited the short game like they had largely been unable to in the first 13 games of the season. Sanchez more closely resembled the ‘game-manager’ quarterback that had been successful for the Jets since he became the team’s starting quarterback. After throwing four interceptions and posting a 44.2 percent completion rate over his previous two games, Sanchez bounced back, serving up no interceptions and completing passes at a 65.5 percent rate. The 65.5 percent completion rate was, as previously mentioned, his highest single-week mark since Week 2 against the New England Patriots (70.0 pct).

Perhaps equally as important for the Jets, the win prevents the Patriots from clinching the AFC East and a first-round bye.