Jets' Mark Sanchez focusing on Steelers' defense
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mark Sanchez already has turned the page on Week 1, just like his teammates.
The 48-28 beatdown of the Bills was one of the Jets' best offensive performances in recent memory. But to sustain that type of effort is the ultimate challenge, Sanchez said.
The Jets quarterback offered much-needed clarity and perspective to those who wished to use Sunday's romp as proof he has arrived.
"I mean, it's just one game," he said Wednesdaywhen asked if he's playing at the highest level of his career. "I've had a better camp than I've had, probably a better preseason, other than not throwing any touchdowns. It's hard to say, but we have a long way to go."
The true test of this team's character will come Sunday, when the Jets head into one of the most hostile environments in the NFL, Heinz Field, to face the team that stopped them from reaching the Super Bowl two seasons ago.
Rex Ryan said he can't help but scour the stands for various jerseys when he goes on the road. In Pittsburgh, he often sees the jerseys of Jack Lambert, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Greene, Mel Blount, Hines Ward, Jerome Bettis and Troy Polamalu.
"It's kind of neat to see," Ryan said with a smile. "Then you think, 'Man, we're facing a good football team.' "
They're not the Steelers of old, of course. Heck, they're not even the same Steelers who defeated the Jets, 24-19, for the 2010 AFC championship. But Pittsburgh has won nine straight home openers, and after losing to Peyton Manning and the Broncos, the Steelers don't plan on losing again. When a local reporter reminded linebacker LaMarr Woodley that his team hasn't been 0-2 since 2002, he said, "And we won't be this year."
The Jets are focusing on what needs fine-tuning. They are aware of what the Steelers, despite their offensive line issues and newfound pass-first mentality, will bring on Sunday.
"They're disciplined, they're fast, they're aggressive and when they take their chances, they go 100 miles per hour," Sanchez said of Pittsburgh's defense. "Those guys are monsters, so we have to play well."
Sanchez already has shown he can handle the atmosphere at Heinz Field, having completed 62.9 percent of his passes (39 of 63) for a total of 403 yards in two games, the Jets' 22-17 regular-season victory in December 2010 and the AFC title game loss. He also threw for two touchdowns in the conference championship game.
But the key will be his ability to take care of the football and players executing the game plan flawlessly. "We've shown we can win there," Sanchez said. "But it really does take a perfect game against these guys."
Each week is a "measuring stick" for a team determined to be Ryan's best yet. Sanchez is excited about this road test "in tough extremes.
"This is going to be a fun one," Sanchez said. "We plan on playing well, we plan on being efficient. After that, we'll see where we're at."