The second-year starting quarterback tossed three touchdown passes in the team's win over their AFC East rivals, the New England Patriots.
Sánchez outplayed his counterpart and arguably the best quarterback in the league, Tom Brady.
Sánchez completed 16 of 25 passes for 194 yards. He threw three touchdown passes — a 7-yarder to LaDainian Tomlinson, a 15-yarder to Braylon Edwards and a 7-yarder to Santonio Holmes — and didn't turn the ball over.
Brady, whose Pats were 14-2 and considered the best team in the playoffs, went 29 of 45 for 299 yards and two touchdowns. But he threw an interception and seemed to be rattled by the Jets defense all night.
"It's like you're on the treadmill running at 10 miles an hour and then someone just hits the stop button," Brady said. "I think we're a pretty good football team, but not when we play like today."
Brady lost his third straight postseason game and was outplayed by Sánchez, who is 4-1 in his playoff career. In those wins, he has beaten some of the league's top quarterbacks in Brady, the Indianapolis Colts' Peyton Manning, and the San Diego Chargers' Philip Rivers.
But Sánchez, who is Mexican-American, avoided the talk – he just walked the walked.
"We treated them with respect all week, at least I did with my comments," Sánchez said.
The Jets' magical playoff run takes them to Pittsburgh next week to face yet another top quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, with the winner getting a chance at the Super Bowl in three weeks. The Jets beat the Steelers, 22-17, there on Dec. 19.
"That's where my mind's at already," said Sánchez. "It's going to be in a tough environment again, and it's good that we have the experience of playing there because we're going to need that."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
You can reach Wil Cruz at firstname.lastname@example.org.