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Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets walks off the field after the Jets failed to convert on third down during the second half against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.
Mark Sanchez sat on the bench as the training staff worked on his neck and shoulders. The New York Jets quarterback looked uncomfortable after he was awkwardly dragged to the turf trying to escape the rush.
He was battered and embarrassed, just like the rest of the Jets.
They came to Philadelphia knowing three wins would likely get them into the postseason. Sanchez and the Jets limped out of a 45-19 loss to the Eagles on Sunday hoping wins in their final two games would be enough to salvage a playoff spot.
Nothing about how they played against the Eagles made it seem as if they could beat them.
Sanchez had two interceptions and threw for a measly 150 yards. Santonio Holmes fumbled, had a ball tip off his hands and was whistled for a penalty after catching a touchdown pass. Nothing was worse than a defense that was destroyed and allowed 420 total yards — including 102 yards rushing from LeSean McCoy and a career-best 156 yards receiving from Brent Celek.
"It's about as bad as it gets," Jets coach Rex Ryan said.
Turns out, a game against the Ryan brothers is the perfect tonic for the mediocre Eagles. Philadelphia's only other home win was a 34-7 beating against Dallas and its defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan.
The Jets, who had won three straight, finish with games against the New York Giants and at Miami. They are in tied with Cincinnati for the final AFC playoff spot.
New York is counting on recent history as a guide toward bouncing back from a wretched performance. Last season, the Jets shook off a 45-3 loss at New England in December to advance all the way to the AFC championship game.
They'll need a healthy and productive Sanchez to have a chance to repeat the feat. He suffered a big hit by Jason Babin late in the third and favored his right shoulder as he left the field. New York's medical staff tended to the injured QB and he returned to the game.
"It was tough today having to turn around and see your QB on the ground," Holmes said. "We have to do a better job protecting our QB."
Sanchez, who was outstanding during the Jets' winning streak, was sacked four times and threw two interceptions.
New York trailed 28-0 early and didn't come ready to play. Check out the result in New York's first five drives: Fumble. Punt. Interception. Punt. Fumble.
"We're better than that," Sanchez said.
The Jets caught an early break when a punt that returner DeSean Jackson let bounce went backward and hit off teammate Curtis Marsh. Ellis Lankster recovered it at the Eagles 14. But Asante Samuel then intercepted Sanchez's pass at the 4 and returned it to the 23.
Led by a Sanchez-to-Holmes TD, the Jets rallied to cut it to 28-13 heading into halftime.
Everything collapsed in the second half.
Late in the third quarter, both Michael Vick and Sanchez were 12 of 18 with a touchdown and an interception.
But the Eagles led 38-13.
Sanchez threw another interception two attempts later and even a miracle comeback was out of reach.
"We can't just try and point the finger at one person," All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis said. "If a big play happens, it's the whole defense, not just one person."
Ryan had a few speedy defensive backs simulate Vick's running skills to get the defensive linemen prepared for what they expected to see at Philadelphia.
He should have focused on McCoy.
McCoy ran for three touchdowns to set two team records — he surpassed Hall of Famer Steve Van Buren with his 19th touchdown of the season and 16th rushing TD in the third quarter. Juqua Parker returned a fumble for a score and the Eagles kept their slim playoff and NFC East title hopes alive.
The Eagles scored 21 points off three turnovers en route to building a 28-0 lead, and didn't let up after the Jets got within 28-13 at halftime.
"Every week is different," coach Andy Reid said. "I know the guys play hard and aggressive. I know they came in with the right frame of mind to do that."
Ryan might have to use an old motivational ploy to get the Jets ready for the last two games.
"Maybe we should bury the football again," he said. "We'll come up with something. We've got to win two games, regardless of losing to these guys or not."
After the Jets were blown out by the Patriots, Ryan took his players to a hole in the ground off the practice field and buried the game ball.
That trick worked once.
Getting ready to play against the Giants in the biggest game of the season for both teams should be enough motivation. The Giants had their playoff hopes take a hit with a 23-10 loss to the Washington Redskins.
"We're both fighting for our playoff lives," Ryan said. "Obviously, there's going to be extra incentive. You go to the same restaurants, the guys date the same girls. We know what it's all about. You want to own your town, you've got to win that game."