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Jets Nearly Flatline En Route to 23-20 Victory in Overtime

Mark Sanchez's first 300-yard game leads to comeback victory

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    There are Sundays when everything goes your way and you cruise to easy victories. There are Sundays when nothing goes right en route to devastating losses. And then there are Sundays like the one the Jets experienced against the Lions which serve to boggle the minds and damage the hearts of everyone watching them.

    For 55 or 56 minutes of Sunday's game, the Jets could not do a single thing right. They committed penalty after penalty to gift the Lions great field position and halt their own drives before they could develop any momentum. Their offensive playcalling remained a baffling mix of the overly clever and depressingly predictable, and their supposedly fearsome defense couldn't muster any kind of a pass rush.

    And then there was Mark Sanchez. The rookie, under so much scrutiny after the shutout loss to the Packers, spent most of Sunday firing passes behind and over his receivers when he wasn't checking down like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. You could already imagine the columns eviscerating him flying off the fingers of New York's media and it was hard to argue with even the most gruesome conclusions that would likely be drawn.

    You won't read those columns, though. You'll probably be reading ones about Sanchez the hero and how he may be the leader we've been waiting for our entire lives. He completed four straight passes before running in a touchdown to make the score 20-17 with three minutes to play. Then he completed five-of-six and got some help from an incredibly stupid Lions penalty to get the team in position for a Nick Folk field goal that sent the game to overtime.

    Finally, after the Jets won the toss, Sanchez found Santonio Holmes on a quick slant that Holmes broke into a 52-yard gain that set up another Folk field goal and a win that seemed impossible with four minutes to play in the fourth quarter. If your reaction was anything other than staring at the game with your mouth open and your head slowly shaking back and forth, you're a marvel because that's the only way to even begin to make sense of what went down at the end of this Jets game.

    Sanchez didn't look fantastic, not even during the furious comeback, but he got the job done and put up 336 yards in the process. He also got rid of the panicky veneer he wore last week and for the first three quarters and three-quarters of the game. It was the kind of performance that felt like a coming-out party, unless that's just wishful thinking talking.

    When everyone is done making sense of the ending to this game, the big question around the Jets should be, "What the hell happened to you guys during the bye week?" For the second straight week, the Jets showed little to no discipline on either side of the ball. Two Lions touchdowns came as a result of penalties and a fumble by Braylon Edwards, while Rex Ryan again used two of his timeouts before the fourth quarter was even four minutes old. The team looked ill-prepared, once again, and the win shouldn't simply erase how horrible they were for the majority of the contest.

    These are important issues to iron out because the Jets win coupled with the Patriots loss means that Ryan has his team back on top of the division. They clearly have what it takes to win and win big this season, now it is just a matter of unlocking the effort and execution on a regular basis.

    Let's see that because we'd love to see these Jets make a run deep into the postseason and because there simply isn't any way our bodies can take too many more weeks like this.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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