Santonio Holmes: I don't remember Week 17 loss at Miami
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- If you take Santonio Holmes at his word, the Jets' meltdown in Miami is the furthest thing from his mind.
Their 2011 season crashed and burned Jan. 1 -- a loss that not only knocked them out of the playoffs for the first time under Rex Ryan but also shook a fractured team to its core.
Sun Life Stadium is the very spot where it happened. But only 10 months removed from the fallout of the Jets' internal squabbles, Holmes said he can't recall their 19-17 defeat in Week 17.
"I don't even remember that game," he said Wednesday, his face stern, a slight edge in his voice.
Mark Sanchez, who spent the summer mending his broken relationship with Holmes, also said he's closed the book on the final chapter of an 8-8 season -- a disappointing finish for a team that reached the AFC Championship Game the previous two years.
The blowback from their collapse took all offseason to repair, but the Jets say they have emerged from the wreckage more unified. So as they prepare to face the Dolphins on Sunday, Sanchez said there are no memories of Sun Life Stadium flooding back.
"I just feel like we're such a different team," he said. "We're mentally stronger than we were last year. We just have a better group. And I think we're prepared to handle this road test.
"I think it's a fresh slate and nobody's really thinking about last year. We learned a lot from it, but we've just kind of put it in its place and moved on."
And this time, he said the chemistry between him and Holmes won't be an issue.
The wide receiver had only one target and zero catches in a game in which he was benched during the final two minutes after players complained he had quit on them. Afterward, running back LaDainian Tomlinson criticized Holmes for his "feeling sorry for himself" demeanor and body language as the Jets were trying to rally late in the fourth quarter.
But Sanchez believes the Jets have a new mindset. Especially Holmes.
"The effort's there and he's got a great attitude," the quarterback said of his No. 1 receiver. "And we'll be better this week."
Ryan said there were a few communication issues with Sanchez and Holmes during the 27-10 loss to the Steelers last week. After the pair teamed for a touchdown on their opening drive, the Jets never found the end zone again.
But even though it may seem as if he and Holmes haven't made significant strides together this season, Sanchez said it's unrealistic to expect quarterbacks and receivers to always be on point. But he commended Holmes' attitude and work ethic in Wednesday's practice, adding that Holmes came to him Monday to go over tape of the Pittsburgh loss.
"Some guys have off days, and that's the way it goes," Sanchez said of Holmes, who was targeted 11 times Sunday and had three catches for 28 yards.
Holmes, a native of Belle Glade, Fla., said the only things on his mind this weekend will be his family, who will be in attendance, and getting a win. When asked about his improved attitude, he said he's stepped up his energy on the practice field because the team "feeds off'' it "because of my status and being the only veteran receiver here. These guys are depending on me to be the guy and I have to step up to the plate.''
But although Holmes and Sanchez refused to revisit the past, tight end Dustin Keller admitted it may not be gone for good, whether the Jets like it or not.
By no means are they "lingering on that game," Keller said. But "once we get on the field and everybody gets going, everybody starts getting amped up, some of the flashbacks may come. We'll see."