January 18, 2011 in Sports

Rewriting standards

Jets’ 2nd-year QB Sanchez finding early playoff success
 
Raiders hire Jackson as head coach

 The Oakland Raiders promoted offensive coordinator Hue Jackson to head coach after he helped the team more than double its scoring output in his first year with the franchise.

 Jackson will be formally introduced at a news conference today, two weeks after the Raiders announced they were not picking up an option to keep coach Tom Cable.

 Jackson was widely considered the leading contender to get the job as soon as the Raiders announced Cable’s departure. This is Jackson’s first head coaching job at any level.

The history of the New York Jets is not exactly replete with sterling quarterback play.

Yes, Joe Namath orchestrated one of the great upsets in history and is in the Hall of Fame based on Super Bowl III and his flamboyant play on and off the field. But he only won two postseason games and actually had a losing record (60-61-4) as the Jets’ starting quarterback.

Chad Pennington won two playoff games. So did Richard Todd. Pat Ryan won one (against the 1986 Chiefs). As did Vinny Testaverde. And that’s it.

But Mark Sanchez is setting a whole new standard.

In leading the Jets to their second straight AFC championship game this week at Pittsburgh, Sanchez is 4-1 in his two-year postseason career, including Sunday night’s 28-21 win at New England. All four wins have come on the road.

“Well, he only had a 127 (passer) rating—excuse me, 127.3,” said Jets head coach Rex Ryan. “But I’ll take it. The thing with this young man is he is just getting better. He’s just now getting better and better. He’s only in year two, and he’s won a bunch of playoff games. That might be a record for most road wins, or close to it.

“Like I said last year, he’s not going to be looked at as the weakness of the team, but as the strength. And I think you are seeing that right now.”

Actually, Sanchez’ 127.3 passer rating against the Patriots was the second-best postseason rating of his career. His best mark was 139.4 against Cincinnati in the first round last year. But his three touchdown passes at New England were a postseason best for Sanchez.

In two playoff games this season, Sanchez has outdueled Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, completing 34 of 56 passes for 383 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Up next comes Ben Roethlisberger. Those three quarterbacks have a combined six Super Bowl rings.

Sanchez is trying to deliver the Jets their first Super Bowl win since Namath did it 42 years ago.

Jennings: Bears’ home field ‘probably the worst’

As far as Green Bay wide receiver Greg Jennings is concerned, the most challenging thing about the Chicago Bears’ home-field advantage might be the field itself.

Jennings isn’t a fan of the grass at Soldier Field, and wasn’t afraid to say so going into Sunday’s NFC championship game against the Bears.

“It’s rough,” Jennings said. “It’s probably one of the worst – probably the worst – in the league.”

Jennings noticed Seattle receivers slipping as chunks of the field came up during the Seahawks’ playoff loss in the snow at Chicago, and said the Packers will have to pay close attention to their footing Sunday.

NFL officials are expected to monitor the situation and work with the stadium’s field manager during the week, taking action if necessary – although it’s not clear what could be done to improve conditions on short notice, as the field recently was re-sodded.

Conference championship game ticket prices soar

Bryan Holst has four tickets to the biggest game in the 90-year rivalry between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers.

On Monday, he put them up for sale.

Holst, a Bears fan from Marengo, Ill., said he wrestled with the decision.

But the potential of a big payday proved too tempting and he posted his tickets on Craigslist for $850 each.

If he can’t find a

Several brokers said tickets for Sunday’s NFC championship game at Soldier Field are by far the most in-demand in Chicago sports history, creating a frenetic online market as Bears fans try to decide how much it’s worth to see the big game live.

On Monday, $134 seats in the upper reaches of Soldier Field were selling for about $500 each, according to several ticket resale websites. The stadium’s lower levels are up to $2,000.


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