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Jets-Ravens: QB Sanchez Shows Rookie Jitters in First Monday Night Game

BALTIMORE - AUGUST 24:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets is hit by Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens in a preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium on August 24, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland.  Sanchez's pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown on the play.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Richard O'NealSenior Analyst IAugust 25, 2009

The lights were on, the field was ready, fans were in their seats, and the cameras were rolling; it was time to see what New York Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez could do against one of the league's top defenses.

The night would prove to be pretty rough for the new guy. 

In his debut as the starting quarterback (for the time being) playing in his first Monday night football game, Sanchez went a measly 3-for-8 for 43 yards with one touchdown and one interception. 

Embarrassingly enough, the interception came just 47 seconds into the game, when Sanchez forced a pass down the middle that was picked off by Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and taken back 25 yards for a touchdown. 

"Not obviously the way you want to start. I thought I was doing the right thing; I felt Ray come free on the right side from the protection," Sanchez said.

"I was checking it down to the flat, perfect. Haloti just jumped right in front of the ball and made a really athletic play."

Sanchez nearly threw another interception later when he threw a pass right into the hands of a waiting Ray Lewis, only to be dropped.

Sanchez would settle in a bit later and moved the offense down field, throwing a 16-yard screen pass to running back Leon Washington on a third down that would be one of the most effective plays on the drive.

The rookie quarterback from the University of Southern California would not achieve any end zone success until he threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Washington on what would be his last play in the game.

Several Ravens defensive starters had already been removed from the game at that point.

Although the night could be described as a rough outing for Sanchez, Jets' head coach Rex Ryan tried to be positive about the situation. 

"I'm proud of the way he responded," Ryan said of Sanchez. "It ain't going to be perfect; sometimes you have these type of nights. You've got to give credit where credit is due, and most of that goes to their defense."

The Ravens would go on to win the game by one point, 24-23. 

Monday night's game proved to be a very meaningful test for Sanchez and undoubtedly provided a learning experience that he won't soon forget.

Portions of this story were taken from the Associated Press and ESPN.com

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