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Off the Mark

Posted by Chase Stuart on October 18, 2009

On a day where Tom Brady made Doug Williams' second quarter in Super Bowl XXII look pedestrian, there was some horrific QB play going on a few miles south of Gilette Stadium. It's rare when you can really blame one player for a loss, but Mark Sanchez today is that guy. Some agonizing footnotes in one of the most unbelievable losses in Jets history:

  • For only the fifth time since 1960, and only the second time in twenty years, a team had a 210-yard rusher and lost. Thomas Jones' historical day -- 22 carries, 210 rushing yards, 1 TD -- went for waste. Since 1960, teams with a 200-yard runner are now 101-7 in the regular season.
  • You might think that teams with a 200-yard rusher should have an even better record. Well, that's because in the first six losses, the losing team with the 200-yard rusher allowed an average of 35.5 points to their opponents. Those games were high scoring affairs where both offenses were clicking. That's what makes the Jets loss so spectacular; to have a dominant runner and to hold a team to 16 points is almost always a recipe for victory. Right? Before today, Walter Payton held the "record" for most rushing yards in a loss where his team allowed 16 or fewer points. On Thanksgiving Day 1981, Payton rushed for 179 yards and the Bears held the Cowboys to 10 points. Only problem? The Bears scored nine.

  • Since the merger, the four biggest rushing performances on a losing team where the opponent scored 16 or fewer points were at the feet of just two running backs. In addition to the Thanksgiving day loss, Payton rushed for 157 rushing yards in a Monday Night loss to the Broncos, 16-7. As for Thomas Jones and his 210 yards, he almost certainly had a feeling of deja vu today. Because 52 weeks ago, the Jets lost as a big favorite 16-13 in overtime, despite a huge rushing day by Jones. Last year the opponent was the Raiders, who overcame Jones' 157-yard game thanks to a terrible game by the Jets quarterback.
  • But it wasn't just Thomas Jones' legs that ran roughshod on the Bills; Leon Washington chipped in with 99 rushing yards and the Jets team rushed for 318 yards. If that sounds like a ton of rushing yards, it is. That's the most rushing yards by a losing team in a game since 1944 and the second most in NFL history. In 1944, the Cleveland Rams rushed for 320 yards in a 14-10 loss to the Redskins. Rushing for 300 yards and losing wasn't exactly common in the pre-modern era, but it's really uncommon now.
  • From 1932 to 2008, NFL teams were 142-8 in games where they rushed for 300 or more yards. Since the merger (and excluding this season) NFL teams were 66-1 in games where they rushed for 300 yards; the one loss was this game where O.J. Simpson set the NFL record (since broken) for rushing yards in a game. Since the rule changes in 1978 to open up the passing game, NFL teams were 39-0 before this season in games with 300+ rushing yards.
  • So how do you lose a game with an unstoppable running game backed by a strong defensive performance? Mark Sanchez was an abominable 10/29 for 119 yards with 0 TDs and 5 INTs, and was sacked twice, losing 23 yards. In adjusted net terms, that's -129 passing yards on 31 dropbacks, or -4.2 ANY/A. That's worse-than-Jamarcus-Russell bad. Our PFR game logs don't include sack data, so we need to look at simple AY/A. Sanchez averaged -3.66 AY/A on Sunday, the second worst game in the NFL this year; only Jake Delhomme's miserable season opener ranks as worse.
  • But what really makes Sanchez' ineptitude so unique isn't how bad he was, but rather how bad he was for as long as he was. Most QBs with terrible games are bad on 10 or 15 throws, but Sanchez was awful on 29 passes. Among quarterbacks with 25 pass attempts in a game since 1978, Sanchez' -3.66 AY/A ranks as the fifth worst performance. If you adjust for era, it's arguably one of the worst games in NFL history.
  • How bad was Mark Sanchez? He managed to make Kerry Collins look good. Thanks to what went down in the boxscore as a -22 yard completion to Nate Washington, Kerry Collins managed to throw for -7 passing yards. That's not net passing yards, which includes a deduction for sack yards lost; it's gross passing yards, in a very literal sense. Negative passing yards on double digit attempts? That's historically bad; but, alas, it wasn't Mark Sanchez bad.

This entry was posted on Sunday, October 18th, 2009 at 10:00 pm and is filed under Player articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.