Sanchez impressing Ochocinco, LT and Rex
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Count Chad Ochocinco among those impressed with the thrilling magic Mark Sanchez has created lately.
"We're both Mexican. Of course he's exciting," the Bengals' loquacious wide receiver said Tuesday. "He's good. To be able to come into that atmosphere and environment in New York, with the monster that the media is there, and to be successful and to be able to carry that weight on your shoulders and just knowing when things aren't going well, you take the heat and when things are going good, it is what it is.
"He's handled it perfect.''
Sanchez has led the Jets to stirring late comebacks in their last four wins, including Sunday's roller-coaster 30-27 victory over the Texans. His 6-yard toss to Santonio Holmes with 10 seconds left came after late heroics against the Broncos, Lions and Browns, proving that the second-year quarterback can get it done in pressure-packed situations.
"It's always been something that I've kind of wanted," Sanchez said. "I know that was kind of a knock coming out of college that, 'He's never had to come back in a football game. They've been up. He hasn't played a lot of football.'
"Well, to me that was 'All right, give me a chance to come back and I'm going to win it.' And not with making a miraculous play, but making the plays we know how to make.
"That's what we've done. I've been smart with the ball at the end of games and we've been pretty fortunate with some good receivers to make plays."
His beautifully thrown 42-yard pass to Braylon Edwards that set up Holmes' score dazzled LaDainian Tomlinson.
"Honestly, that was one of the best throws I've seen live," Tomlinson said. "Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, I've been around those guys for a while, and that's one of the best clutch throws in crunch time that I've seen. I think he's proving he's the quarterback everybody thought he would be. He's a guy that can become an elite quarterback in this league."
Tomlinson went a step further. "He was probably the main reason that I came here, honestly, because I said this guy has something special to him - to be able to keep plays alive," he said. "He's ahead of his time as far as the learning curve of knowing this offense. So when I looked at it, I just wanted to come here because of him."
He still has light years to go, but Sanchez slowly is beginning to emulate the comeback ability of Joe Montana, Troy Aikman and John Elway, the Hall of Fame trio posterized on his bedroom wall while growing up.
"All last week, they had that 'Top 10 Comebacks' on the NFL Network,'' Sanchez said. "So it was like 'Man, those are the type of games you always want to be a part of.' Boom, we're in that situation."
And Sanchez transformed into the guy Rex Ryan loves to call "Cool Hand Luke."
"He plays on this stage every week and can handle it, where a lot of guys can't," Ryan said. "A lot of guys can be great quarterbacks, but on this stage? Whoa, not so fast. He can handle it. That was what was important going through the process of finding our quarterback, that we made sure he was the right guy."