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Sanchez OK after injury scare

10/5/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

LOS ANGELES -- On a night when just about everything went right for USC, it seems reasonable that even a scary injury had an apparent happy ending.

With less than four minutes left in the third quarter, Oregon defensive end Nick Reed yanked Trojans quarterback Mark Sanchez down from behind for a sack. Sanchez's left knee -- the one he wears a brace on since he dislocated his kneecap during the preseason -- got bent under him.

And he didn't get up.

"I think we all got scared a little bit," defensive end Clay Matthews said.

A short time after he walked gingerly off the field, it was announced that Sanchez might return to the game. And then he did -- albeit briefly -- for the first series of the fourth quarter.

So the knee wasn't seriously hurt and shouldn't keep Sanchez from practicing this week and suiting up Saturday when Arizona State comes to town.

"It was just aggravated a little bit, nothing too serious," Sanchez said. "I wanted to come back in, but as a precaution we held back a little and it was [backup Mitch Mustain's] time to step up. Thankfully, I had the patella stabilizer and the brace and that took care of me."

Sanchez walked up the tunnel with a limp immediately after the game, his knee wrapped in bandages and ice.

But he walked to the shower showing few ill-effects and fielded questions afterwards per his usual routine.

Before he went down, he turned in perhaps the best performance of his career, completing 19 of 28 for 332 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Reed's sack was the only time the Ducks pass rush got him.

"Sanchez was very accurate," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. "They did a nice job of protecting him and moving the pocket around."

In the loss at Oregon State, Sanchez's numbers were OK, but he only averaged 7.8 yards per completion. The plan against the Ducks was to throw down field more.

Sanchez's touchdowns were 34 yards, 63 yards and 11 yards. He averaged 11.5 yards per completion.

"He throws a beautiful deep ball," USC coach Pete Carroll said.

And it appears he'll again be throwing deep Saturday against Arizona State.