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Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Mark Sanchez discusses fumble

By Rich Cimini
ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has committed 41 turnovers over the past two seasons, second-most in the NFL. The 41st won't be forgotten anytime soon.

Six days after his infamous butt fumble, which became an instant Internet sensation, a sheepish Sanchez compared it to a car crash.

"It's embarrassing," Sanchez said Wednesday, addressing it for the first time since his postgame interview. "You screw up the play and I'm trying to do the right thing. It's not like I'm trying to force something. I start to slide and I slide in the worst spot I possibly could --- right into (right guard) Brandon Moore.

"I guess (I was) more stunned than anything. It was just like & a car accident. I was like, 'Whoa, what just happened? The ball is gone.' It was weird, man. That sucked."

The play could be the defining moment of the Jets' disappointing season, which hit rock bottom with a 49-19 loss to the New England Patriots.

In the middle of a 52-second span in the second quarter, during which the Jets allowed three touchdowns, Sanchez -- after an aborted handoff -- ran directly into Moore's backside. He went down hard, the ball came loose and it was returned by the Patriots for a touchdown -- a football folly for the ages. "It'll probably be on a blooper reel for a while," Sanchez said.

The play was depicted last Sunday in a New York Post cartoon, with a Jets helmet attached to Moore's rear end and no sign of Sanchez's body -- just a chalk outline on the field.

Sanchez said teammate Nick Mangold razzed him about the cartoon. The Jets' embattled quarterback managed to laugh about it. At this point, it's either laugh or cry. This has been the most challenging season of his career, and it hit the lowpoint with last week's embarrassing loss, which dropped the Jets to 4-7.

Turns out Sanchez was indirectly responsible for the retirement of longtime Jets super-fan Ed Anzalone, who announced he no longer will attend games as Fireman Ed because he was constantly harassed by other fans for wearing a Sanchez jersey to games this season.

"Obviously, if his safety is in jeopardy, maybe it's a good move," said Sanchez, adding that he appreciated Fireman Ed's support.

The Sanchez-Tim Tebow dynamic -- now a controversy -- has overshadowed the entire franchise. This week, Sanchez doesn't have to worry about Tebow taking his job; Tebow (fractured ribs) is a question mark for Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals. But in the big picture, Sanchez's inconsistent play has caused concern within the organization.

Not that Rex Ryan would ever admit that. The Jets' coach is fiercely protective of Sanchez, refusing to publicly criticize him for any mistakes.

"To put the blame on one person, I don't think that's appropriate," said Ryan, who has surrounded Sanchez with a suspect receiving corps.

Sanchez has 10 interceptions -- not an awful total -- but they've been costly because of where they've occurred. He has thrown six inside the opponents' 37-yard line, including a league-high four interceptions in the red zone.

"You can say, 'Just don't do it.' I think we've said that a bunch," Ryan said. "I don't think that's going to fix it. You look more into why those mistakes are made. Those are things you try to fix."

The Jets committed to Sanchez through at least 2013 by giving him a contract extension last offseason, guaranteeing $8.25 million next year. It virtually ensures his return, but it's tough to win games with a mistake-prone quarterback.

Asked about the 41 turnovers, Sanchez shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't know. Just doing my best. We'll see how these next five games go."

No matter what happens, he'll never live down the Butt Fumble, which already is being called one of the biggest bloopers in team history.

"I don't know how to explain it," Sanchez said. "It was a wild one. & Hopefully, we'll laugh about it later."