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Jets rookie QB Sanchez remorseful about turnovers

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Mark Sanchez has to summon his inner Hollywood, tap into his Los Angeles roots a bit more lately because of his penchant for turning the ball over.

The Jets' rookie quarterback is distraught after a turnover-filled game like Sunday's and is forced to put on a faux happy face when he goes home to spend time with his family and friends. Inside, he's still steaming and perturbed by his error-prone performances, feelings he has to keep bottled up as if he's seated at a casino poker table.

He just doesn't want to be a total downer.

"You've got to act a little bit on days like that because it's hard and you don't really want to see anybody," Sanchez said Wednesday. "But they fly across the country and you've got to save face for them, put on your Vegas face. So they are rough ones. It's rough on Sunday afternoons like that, knowing that I felt like we just squandered some opportunities, me personally, and let a game slip.

"It's tough on days like that. But they keep you coming back."

So does wanting to prove to his veteran teammates that he can get the job done. Sanchez's decision-making has been on a steady decline over the second half of the season. He's continually throwing into double coverage and is forcing throws into tight spots when he knows he shouldn't be doing so.

Sanchez's 20 interceptions tie him with the Lions' Matthew Stafford, the person selected four spots ahead of Sanchez, for second in the NFL, behind the Bears' Jay Cutler (25). Sanchez has been picked off 10 times in his last five games and has thrown multiple interceptions three times during that span.

He's aware he's letting his teammates down, especially since the Jets boast the league's top-ranked rushing attack and No. 1 defense - typically two key ingredients for successful playoff teams.

"In some points, yeah," said Sanchez, who admitted he may be trying to do too much at the outset of games. "It's not very ideal for the quarterback to give the ball away like that. It makes things tougher on us as a defense, as an offense, on special teams, and to eliminate that would really relieve a lot of pressure those guys are under. So I've just got to keep working."

Brian Schottenheimer, the Jets' offensive coordinator, recalled having to tell Drew Brees, now one of the best quarterbacks in the game, to take a seat in his second season because Brees was making decisions that cost the Chargers some victories. Although he doesn't believe that's necessary with Sanchez yet, Schottenheimer relayed the story to point out that Sanchez isn't the only one who has experienced these problems.

However, Schottenheimer also candidly said Sanchez's lack of steady progress is on him.

"I haven't done a good enough job," Schottenheimer said. "I will say that, I will take responsibility for that. He knows what to do. Instinctively, he still lives in that mind-set of 'I can make that throw, I can do this.' And what we are trying to do is clean up his decisions, to have him realize that we are a good football team."

The first true step now is to make sure Sanchez doesn't keep making the same critical mistakes, something he wasn't doing early on when he helped engineer a 3-0 start.

"It's frustrating and it's something that needs to change for us to have more success, and it definitely will," Sanchez said. "It's something I'm working at like crazy and I'm confident it's going to work out. I'm lucky to have the guys we have on this team to help me get through it.

"I'm pretty fortunate to be here, and for us to be 7-7 with 20 interceptions, that is a pretty good team. So I've just got to pull my weight."

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