Quarterback Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets fumbles a...

Quarterback Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets fumbles a snap against the Baltimore Ravens. (Oct. 2, 2011) Credit: Getty Images


Mark Sanchez has had some clunkers in his two-plus seasons with the Jets, and Sunday night's was among the worst of them.

The numbers are as ugly as you'll see from an NFL quarterback: 11-for-35 for 119 yards, three lost fumbles -- two of which were returned for touchdowns -- and an interception returned for a touchdown at a critical juncture of the third quarter.

In a word: brutal.

"There were plenty of miscues," Sanchez said. "We all had our share in this loss. It starts with the quarterback."

And pretty much ended with the quarterback. The Ravens scored 24 points off Sanchez's turnovers and pummeled the Jets, 34-17, at M&T Bank Stadium in what had been billed as a showdown between two powerhouse AFC teams.

In the end, though, there was only one of those.

It wasn't the Jets.

With Sanchez playing one of the worst games of his career against an admittedly elite defensive foe, the Jets were beaten -- and beaten up -- by a Ravens team that might be as good as any in the conference.

"I think we rattled him and got him off his mark, and we were able to make plays off of him," said All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who forced a fumble by Sanchez that was returned 26 yards by Jarret Johnson for a second-quarter touchdown. "Once we knew they were going to start passing, we just pinned our ears back and tried to get to him as fast as we could."

It didn't take long to get to him. Try one play. On the Jets' first offensive snap, Sanchez was sacked from behind by future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed, who stripped the ball and then watched as linebacker Jameel McClain returned the fumble for a 6-yard touchdown and a quick 7-0 lead.

It didn't get much better from there, as Sanchez was virtually helpless against a Ravens defense that might be the best in football.

"The defense reminded me of the 2000 and 2006 Ravens teams," said Jets coach Rex Ryan, who was a Ravens defensive assistant during those two seasons, the first of which ended with a Super Bowl victory. "This just wasn't our night."

It especially wasn't Sanchez's night. He finished with a rating of 30.5, although that wasn't much worse than his Ravens counterpart, Joe Flacco (37.4). Flacco had a hot start in the first quarter but was woefully inaccurate after that, finishing 10-for-31 for 163 yards, no touchdowns, an interception and a lost fumble.

"The credit goes to their defense," Ryan said. "That wasn't our best day, but the opponent had something to do with it. Mark, he struggled mightily. It wasn't his best day, but he's our quarterback and I believe in him. We've have some ups and downs before, and we'll get past this."

Sanchez was victimized by continued problems along the offensive line. His All-Pro center, Nick Mangold, missed a second straight game with an ankle injury, and Mangold's replacement, Colin Baxter, struggled in pass protection as well as the seemingly simple act of snapping the ball.

At one point, Baxter was benched and replaced by Matt Slauson, who moved over from left guard. Second-year lineman Vladimir Ducasse filled in at left guard, but his pass protection was so poor that the Jets put Baxter back in and moved Slauson back to guard.

The good news for Sanchez: Mangold is expected back next week. The bad news: The Jets are playing the 3-1 Patriots on the road.

Then again, the last time the Jets played the Patriots in New England, they put together a mammoth upset in the playoffs, this after being annihilated 45-3 in the regular season in Foxborough.

"We need to work through this, focus in practice. We have to fight, we really do," Sanchez said. "Nick has to fight to come back, and I know he will. We have to fight through this thing up front . I've got to fight through this thing of taking hits, getting my body ready for next week. It's a great thing that we're playing a team that we know we can play well against but a team that's a dangerously good team that we need to be ready for. We need to be ready to play."

Especially the quarterback.