Another shaky performance for three quarters by Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets. And then, another fourth-quarter comeback.
Sanchez hit Santonio Holmes for a 30-yard touchdown pass with 4:49 to play Sunday, and Shonn Greene added a pair of insurance scores to give the Jets a 34-19 win over the Washington Redskins, keeping New York in the realistic hunt for an AFC playoff berth
It was Sanchez's 10th career fourth-quarter comeback or overtime victory, including the playoffs, and his second in as many weeks. The Jets (7-5) scraped by the Buffalo Bills last Sunday, the first step in the team's stated mission to win out and make the postseason for a third straight year.
But the playoff surge machine again looked more like a combustion engine missing a few spark plugs as coach Rex Ryan's team pulled off another mistake-filled win. New York had only 168 total yards after three quarters, committed untimely penalties and had another special teams turnover against the Redskins (4-8), who have lost seven of eight.
Sanchez completed 19 of 32 passes for 165 yards and avoided throwing an interception after having at least one in five straight games. Greene ran for 88 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries.
Rex Grossman hit 19 of 46 passes for 221 yards and one interception for the Redskins, and his fumble while being sacked by Aaron Maybin deep in his own territory with the score 20-16 thwarted his own chance for a fourth-quarter comeback. Calvin Pace recovered, and Greene took a direct snap and scored on a 9-yard run two plays later to give the Jets an 11-point lead.
Graham Gano's fourth field goal, a 43-yarder with 1:59 to play, pulled the Redskins within eight. Washington then failed to recover an onside kick, and Greene scooted in from 25 yards with 1:47 remaining.
The Jets trailed 16-13 after Gano's 46-yard field goal with 7:52 to go, but a short kickoff was returned by Josh Baker near midfield. Sanchez and the New York offense then came back to life, with the quarterback scrambling to avoid pressure before completing a 10-yard pass to Greene on a third-and-4 two plays before the big throw to Holmes down the left sideline.
Both offenses started strong. After failing to score a touchdown on their opening drive in any of their first 10 games, the Redskins got one for the second straight week. A 42-yard pass to Fred Davis (99 yards on six catches) led to a 2-yard run by rookie Roy Helu, who rushed for 100 yards for the second straight week.
The Jets responded with a real clock-eater: 17 plays, 74 yards over 9:06, including three wildcat plays and a fourth-and-1 conversion. LaDainian Tomlinson was hurt along the way, apparently reinjuring his left knee on a tackle-from-behind by safety Oshiomogho Atogwe. Tomlinson missed the previous two games with an ailing left knee and didn't start the game. Greene finished the drive a 1-yard touchdown run.
After the teams traded field goals, rookie Jeremy Kerley muffed a punt deep in New York territory and the Redskins recovered — the NFL-high sixth special teams turnover committed by the Jets this season. It set up another field goal by Gano to give Washington a 13-10 lead at the half.
Jim Leonhard, replacing Kerley as the return man, ran back a punt 14 yards in the third quarter to get the Jets in Washington territory. Nick Folk then tied it at 13 with a season-high 51-yard field goal.
The Jets had a chance to take the lead after forcing Helu to fumble — a call that needed a replay challenge by Ryan. New York took over at Washington's 29 but went nowhere, and Folk pushed a 40-yard field-goal attempt wide right.
Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP