Thursday, January 20, 2011
Mark Sanchez, again, at Center of Attention
By Vincent Masi
Our weekly focus on quarterbacks under Center of Attention for the AFC and NFC Championship Games.
He continues to build a solid postseason résumé, posting a 4-1 playoff record following Sunday's win over the New England Patriots. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, if Sanchez wins on Sunday at Pittsburgh, he will set the NFL record for most career playoff road wins with five.
Amazingly, he’s yet to have a postseason game with at least 20 completions. Elias also reports that Sanchez's streak of five straight postseason games with fewer than 20 completions is tied for the second-longest streak among quarterbacks active in 2010. Sanchez doesn't have to look far to find the quarterback with the longest streak. It's his teammate, Mark Brunell, who had six over the 1997 to 2005 postseasons.
If there was one thing the Baltimore Ravens did well against “Big Ben” in the divisional playoffs, it was keeping him from throwing the deep ball. Roethlisberger was just 1-for-5 on passes thrown more than 20 yards downfield. (Although Roethlisberger's lone completion was a 58-yarder to Antonio Brown that led to the game-winning score.)
That plays right into the New York Jets' hands. When they played each other in Week 15, Roethlisberger was 0-for-3 on attempts that far downfield. It was the only game this season in which Roethlisberger went without a completion on those long passes when he threw more than one of them.
He proved to be unstoppable when he was in the friendly confines of the Georgia Dome during the Green Bay Packers 48-21 rout of the Atlanta Falcons. On Sunday, he'll be outdoors at frigid Soldier Field in Chicago. According to weatherbug.com, the temperature is forecasted to be well below 40 degrees, and that's just fine with Rodgers. Over the past two seasons, Rodgers has won five straight and seven of his past eight starts with the temperature under 40 degrees. He's thrown at least three touchdown passes in five of those games -- 18 total -- with just three interceptions.
The Bears quarterback will have to look for more pressure from the Packers than he saw last week from the Seattle Seahawks.
The last time Cutler faced Green Bay, in Week 17, he threw 20 times when five or more rushers came his way. That tied his single-game high for attempts in that situation, set previously in Week 6 against the Seahawks. That was in contrast to what Cutler faced in the first game against the Packers, in Week 3. He threw just seven passes when facing added pressure, completing five for 81 yards as the Bears won 20-17.