Every Sunday, the same ritual holds. I don my years-old Cheesehead, warn my friends to secure their television in the inevitable case of said headgear flying toward their television, and balance frantically finishing my work with never shifting my eyes from the television screen. The Packers are on, and something exceptional always happens. After a Sunday night drubbing of the Chicago Bears, the Green Bay Packers hosted the Philadelphia Eagles in a matchup of two teams comfortably in the top of the league. Analysts were eager to see what Mark Sanchez, whose resurgence last week hoped to serve as a one-week silencing of years of doubters, would do in the most menacing stadium in the league. And you know what happened? Mark Sanchez happened.
Based on the title, one might assume this is going to be a lengthy post bashing Mark Sanchez and, as the announcers even said during the game, “adding insult to insult”. But instead, this is an examination of what makes Mark Sanchez, Mark Sanchez. The gaffes? We’ll get that out of the way early. Two bad interceptions, one returned for a touchdown by Julius Peppers and a penalty on Sanchez on the play, and three sacks. Three fumbles, two lost, one returned for a touchdown. Instead of the butt fumble, we saw him fall forward. Numerous overthrows. What is he doing starting in the NFL? He wasn’t even about to be the only USC quarterback in the game with Matt Barkley warming up at the end of the fourth quarter. It’s assumed that coverage of the game on the side of the Eagles will constitute much ridicule directed at Sanchez and his seemingly flash-in-the-pan brilliance of a week prior. But, you know what? There was some of that in this game, too.
In pressure situations, despite the score saying differently, Sanchez succeeded. Down by an unattainable margin, the Eagles tried twice on fourth downs in the second half. Facing pressure from the Packers defense and relatively difficult coverage, Sanchez connected twice on indisputably impressive passes, giving the Eagles at least some hope on the drive. With 346 yards and two touchdowns, the stats weren’t all bad. No, this is why Mark Sanchez keeps getting tapped to play in the NFL, and that’s why today was the most Mark Sanchez day in his career.
For all of the criticism, people are quick to forget that to make the AFC Championship game twice in a row, you’d have to do a lot right. To throw chances like that away, it doesn’t take much wrong. He’s a player that will forever be remembered for his gif-inducing mishaps, his promise that was asking far too much of somebody with his potential. As a Packers fan, I loved every second of the game today. Offense, defense, special teams, we truly asserted ourselves over one of the league’s top teams. But as a football fan, I took pride in noticing what would probably be overlooked: that Mark Sanchez can play football like a trigonometric graph – equal peaks and valleys, with no shortage of fluctuation.