Finally Mark Sanchez gave New York Jets’ fans something to cheer for. And this time around, no one was calling for Tim Tebow.
The struggling quarterback was all smiles following his team’s 27-13 win over the St. Louis Rams.
With the Jets’ win, the beleaguered Sanchez presided over a turnover-free performance as the team snapped a three-game losing streak on Sunday.
"I thought 'Schotty' did a real nice job, kept us off-balance that first drive," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "Our communication got much better, and we made some plays."
Sanchez was 15 for 20 for 178 yards and a touchdown, managing the game, while Tim Tebow was merely a footnote in an outing that renews confidence heading into a Thanksgiving night meeting against AFC East-leading New England.
"That was part of the emphasis coming into the game, taking care of the football, and being in control of those situations down in the red zone," Sanchez said. "We just wanted to be real smart in those situations."
Bilal Powell ran for the first two touchdowns of his career, Chaz Schilens scored on a 25-yard reception and Nick Folk kicked a pair of 51-yard field goals for the Jets (4-6), who were criticized for a lack of production from their skill players while getting outscored 58-16 the previous two games.
Brandon Gibson caught a 1-yard touchdown pass to cap an 86-yard drive on the Rams' first possession and caught a 2-yard TD pass late in the fourth. In between, the Rams' offense was stifled.
"On that first drive, we had rhythm," quarterback Sam Bradford said. "After that, it kind of fell apart."
The Jets pushed aside a major distraction from last week, comments from several anonymous players disparaging Tebow's ability, and just played. Tebow was rarely used, and Ryan said the Rams' multiple looks on defense was the primary reason.
"And that kind of maybe shut him down a little more than we had originally planned," Ryan said. "That was part of the reason you never saw a whole lot of him."
Linebacker Bart Scott, whose 38-yard fumble return set up a touchdown, initially declined to speak to reporters while complaining of unfair treatment. Scott barked at teammates to follow suit, yelling to one, "You didn't get the memo?" before finally relenting.
Chris Long had two sacks but the St. Louis' defense hasn't forced a turnover in five straight games, tying the NFL's longest such slump since 1950, according to STATS LLC. The Rams are in an 0-4-1 funk.
"We're trying to go up that mountain and we just don't know where the top is so we can go down that road," offensive tackle Rodger Saffold said.
Tight officiating hurt the Rams, with Chris Givens' 98-yard kickoff return for touchdown nullified by a holding penalty to Rodney McLeod. After viewing the replay, coach Jeff Fisher said it appeared to be a legal block and added, "the player wouldn't have made the play."
"It didn't look to me like it was an egregious hold," Fisher added. "We're not good enough to overcome those kinds of things and the fact that it wasn't a hold, but it's just kind of the way it works."
McLeod didn't think it was a hold, either.
"(The referee) said I had to let him go," McLeod said. "That said, I'm taught to finish my block all the way to the end and that's what I thought I did."
The Rams were favored for the first time this season, a 3½-point pick coming off an impressive outing in a 24-24 tie at San Francisco a week earlier to beat a team that had been sliding. They've lost two straight at home — three in a row counting a blowout loss to the Patriots in London — after a 3-0 start.
The Jets, moving past blowout losses at Seattle and against Miami, led 13-7 at the half and put it away with a pair of touchdown runs by Powell in the fourth quarter that made it a 20-point cushion.
Folk is the second kicker in Jets history with two 50-yard field goals in the same game. He's missed just three of 16 attempts, including a pair of blocked kicks in the last three weeks. Janoris Jenkins got all of the ball to snuff a 26-yard attempt in the first half.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.