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During the days leading up to the Jets' opener against the Bills, wide receiver Santonio Holmes reported that Mark Sanchez was "rattled" by the news that the team traded for Tim Tebow.
Sanchez disputed the word choice, but not the fact that he was taken aback by the decision to bring the world's most celebrated backup quarterback to New York. Whatever word you want to use, it seems that the Tebow trade and the resulting media firestorm have acted to bring out something new and better from the Jets' embattled quarterback.
It's probably not too great a stretch to suggest that Sanchez had as good a day as he has ever had in the NFL in Sunday's 48-28 win over the Bills. He threw three touchdowns, showed good accuracy, hit some deep passes and generally ran the team like the unquestioned starting quarterback that the Jets (and no one else) insisted he has always been.
We're not naive enough to believe that one great performance from Sanchez will mean a thing if and when the Jets take a punch to the nose like they delivered on Sunday, but that doesn't make what he did on Sunday means any less.
Sanchez knew that his performance in this game was going to be scrutinized with a frenzy that doesn't belong in the first week of the regular season and he delivered a game that completely flipped the script we followed all summer.
That's a big statement to make right out of the gate. The pressure will remain on because that's just the nature of the beast, but Sanchez reminded everyone that he's a quarterback while the other fella is a football player.
Here's the rest of the good, bad and ugly of the 48-28 win.
GOOD: The Jets wide receivers were not the subject of much praise in the preseason, but Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley both had two touchdowns during Sunday's blowout to provide another reminder that the preseason just doesn't matter. Hill's looking as good as advertised when it comes to getting open deep and Kerley's punt return score showed some more explosiveness than you'd imagine from a slot receiver.
BAD: It doesn't seem like Darrelle Revis suffered a serious head injury late in the game, but you never want to see Revis and head injury in the same sentence. It was a scary moment at the end of a celebratory day.
GOOD: Maybe Wayne Hunter was the entire problem with the offense? Austin Howard pitched a shutout against Austin Howard and the protection issues from the summer were totally absent against the revamped Bills defensive line.
UGLY: Williams wasn't willing to give Howard any credit, choosing to whine about the officiating after the game instead. He might have been right, but guys who get huge contracts to rush the passer find a way to get the job done or they keep their mouths shut out of embarrassment.
GOOD: LaRon Landry hasn't had much luck when it comes to staying healthy and it didn't take long to figure out why. He hits people with 100 percent of himself every single play, leading to a fumble and an injury to Fred Jackson on Sunday in a performance we haven't seen from a Jets safety in a very long time.
BAD: Tebowmania never got off the ground thanks to Sanchez Fever, but that didn't stop the Jets from trying to force a square peg into a round hole. The most glaring moment came in the red zone when Sanchez came out after a big completion for a ho-hum run play that resulted in boos from a crowd smart enough to know you shouldn't fix what isn't broken.
GOOD, BAD and UGLY: After the game, Bart Scott decided to issue a "media mutiny" or, as it is more commonly known, boycott because of the way the media treated the Jets this summer. Scott was totally right.
The Jets were written off before they played a meaningful snap and it's totally understandable that they'd harbor some ill will about people jumping to those conclusions. It's funny that a team so fond of promoting themselves before they did anything would take offense to others doing it, but that doesn't mean it isn't justified.
It doesn't mean it's healthy either. Channel that into the locker room and into the game, but the Jets don't need to take the adversarial route with the media because that's just going to ensure that the circus never leaves town.