Weak Jets sneak past Dolphins

New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez throws against the Miami Dolphins in the first half during...

New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez throws against the Miami Dolphins in the first half during their NFL football game in Miami, Florida, September 23, 2012. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

John Kryk, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:39 PM ET

Mark Sanchez got his act together just in time to stave off millions of New Yorkers calling for his head on Monday.

Now it'll probably only be many hundreds of thousands.

The embattled New York Jets quarterback was gawdawful for much of Sunday's 23-20 overtime win in Miami against the Dolphins.

Until eight minutes remained in the first half, he still hadn't completed a single pass to one of his wide receivers, dating back to the second half of the opener against the Buffalo Bills.

At halftime, Sanchez was just 8-of-19 for 71 yards. And he didn't get any better in the third quarter.

It was bad Sanchez — pre-season Sanchez — all the way.

But down the stretch, Sanchez started hooking up with his only dangerous wide receiver, Santonio Holmes. And with only 3:01 remaining in regulation he beat an all-out Dolphins blitz to find Jerome Kerley on a quick seven-yard slant to the right for a touchdown, which gave the Jets a short-lived 20-17 lead.

In overtime, it appeared as though the Jets would fall to 1-2, but Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter pulled a potential game-winning 48-yard field goal wide left.

New life.

Sanchez took full advantage of it. He hit Holmes down the left sideline for 38 yards, which set up Nick Folk's game-winning 33-yard field goal.

Jets coach Rex Ryan afterward praised Sanchez's tenacity.

"He's just a competitor who fights his tail off, just like everybody did — the entire football team," Ryan said.

"It looked bleak there for a while, but we just kept fighting. And we had that mentality that good things were heading our way, and we just kept believing and kept fighting. I thought Mark did just a tremendous job (in that regard)."

If only that regard.

Where does this leave Sanchez? Still on the hot seat, that's for sure.

Since the opening three quarters of the season against the Bills, Sanchez has only confirmed his harshest critics' most pointed criticisms.

That he is wildly inconsistent. That he misses open receivers. That he is incapable of making any of his surrounding players better. That he cannot take this team anywhere, even if the Jets somehow eke into the playoffs.

Harsh indeed.

But fair? Probably.

So, do the Jets turn to Tim Tebow? As we've been saying for months, absolutely not, if it's to replace Sanchez in a traditional NFL offence. It's still too early to go there, though. Not way too early anymore, just too early.

The Jets are 2-1, tied for first place in the AFC East. It's not time to panic.

Besides, Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano is beginning to use Tebow more and more already. Not so much in the Wildcat, but as a receiver — on the field at the same time as Sanchez.

Tebow lined up on Sunday as a wideout, as a slot receiver, as an H-back and even had one pass go his way, although it bounced off his helmet, incomplete.

Tebow's only meaningful contribution Sunday was finally taking a direct snap on a fake punt, and — being the strong runner he is — he ploughed for a first down.

Unless the Jets want to see a lot of that with Tebow as the No. 1 quarterback, they don't really have any choice but to hope that Good Sanchez appears more often than Bad Sanchez.

The alternative surely would produce a whole lot of car-crash-gawking fun for the rest of us who aren't Jets fans. But not so much fun, or success, for the Jets.

STAR JET AND DOLPHIN PLAYERS HURT KNEES: The best Miami Dolphin, RB Reggie Bush, left the game in the second quarter with an undisclosed (or undetermined as yet) knee injury.

One quarter later, the Jets' best player similarly went down. CB Darrelle Revis planted awkwardly and appeared to twist his right knee.

Neither player returned.

Ryan said Revis will have an MRI done on Monday.

Revis — widely regarded as the best cover corner in the league — missed last week's game with a concussion.

EXTRA POINTS: Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis fumbled for the first time in his career in Washington. He'd gone 590 career touches without losing a fumble, dating back to his years with the Patriots ... Rams CB Cortland Finnegan had an interception for the third time in as many games with his new teams ... After three losses, New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees is now 75-of-137 on the season (54.7%) for 904 yards, seven TDs and five picks — far, far off his record-setting 2011 numbers.

john.kryk@sunmedia.ca

@JohnKryk

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