MetLife Stadium was bathed in blue, not the green that Mark Sanchez was accustomed to seeing on game days when he played here for the Jets. But that didn't make this homecoming any less emotional for the Eagles quarterback.
"Any time you come back to a stadium that we have so many fun memories . . . it's great to come back to a stadium like this and win," the former Jets quarterback said Sunday after the Eagles' 34-26 win over the Giants in the season finale for both teams.
As satisfied as Sanchez may have been with the victory, however, there still seemed to be something missing -- as often was the case when he played for the Jets. The Eagles finished 10-6 and failed to qualify for the playoffs, and Sanchez was given a large share of the blame for the three-game losing streak that dropped them from the NFC East lead to out of the playoff picture.
In the final game of the season -- and perhaps his final game as an Eagle -- the sixth-year pro completed 23 of 36 passes for 292 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
He had another interception called back because of a pass-interference penalty that kept a drive alive and led to the Eagles' second touchdown of the game, a 1-yard pass from Sanchez to Brent Celek.
"I thought, like with a lot of our guys, there were some plays where you were like, 'Wow, that's a hell of a play!' Then there were some other times where you probably want that one back," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said of Sanchez, who was sacked four times.
Sanchez, who replaced starter Nick Foles after he suffered a broken collarbone in the season's eighth game, threw for 2,418 yards in nine games (eight starts). He completed 64.1 percent of his passes and had 14 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions.
Operating in Kelly's fast-paced offense, Sanchez put up numbers that compare favorably with Foles' (2,163 passing yards, 59.8-percent completion rate, 13 TD passes, 10 INTs), except that Foles was 6-2 as a starter and Sanchez was 4-4.
Asked if he thinks his performance changed people's perception of him as a quarterback, Sanchez declined to answer.
"That's for you [media] guys to debate about," he said. "That's not even on my mind. I'm thrilled about getting the opportunity; I'm thrilled about making new friends on this team, and hopefully, we can continue to do stuff in the future. But we'll see."
Having signed a one-year contract with the Eagles after getting released by the Jets, Sanchez doesn't know where he'll be playing next year. He has said he'd like to be a starter somewhere, and Sunday he wouldn't answer the question of whether he'd return to Philadelphia next season as a backup to Foles.
Instead, he preferred to focus on the game he'd just played -- and won -- in his old stadium.
"I didn't worry about trying to do too much," he said. "I just got a second to take it all in and remember all the great times -- and then go play a game. And that's what I did."