Jets rookie QB Sanchez looks to keep good times rolling

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mark Sanchez is hoping that lightning strikes twice.

The New York Jets' rookie quarterback showed up at his news conference Friday wearing a black T-shirt with the word "Wonderboy" printed across the chest, complete with a silver lightning bolt.

"Yep, Roy Hobbs," Sanchez said with a big smile.

Hobbs, of course, is the power-hitting character played by Robert Redford in the 1984 film, "The Natural." The movie was based on Bernard Malamud's 1952 novel of the same name in which Hobbs carves his beloved bat, "Wonderboy," out of a tree that was split in half by a lightning bolt.

"I've had it for a while," Sanchez said. "I'm wearing everything that could bring a little something good."

New York will play at Indianapolis in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday. The Jets rallied to beat the then-undefeated Colts after they pulled Peyton Manning and other starters in the third quarter in Week 16.

"I don't want to go home," Sanchez said. "This is too cool. This is too fun."

The Jets have been a superstitious bunch during their playoff run, which explains the scraggly beard that Sanchez has sported the last few weeks. Even coach Rex Ryan has refused to cut his hair or wash a grease stain out of his sweat shirt.

Despite being confident and saying he believed his team should be favorites to win the Super Bowl, the fact the Jets are having an Internet pre-sale for items with "AFC Champions" printed on them kind of caught Ryan by surprise.

"But the other teams are doing it, too," Ryan said. "You have Indy, New Orleans, Minnesota, just so everybody is clear on that. But, I'll be honest, I was like, 'What? I like it, I like it.'"

The Jets' success in the last month has coincided with the efficient play lately by Sanchez, who has thrown only one interception in three playoff games. Another performance like that could help him become the first rookie quarterback to win three postseason games since the merger in 1970.

"It's just been important for me to understand that you don't always get to come back here, that it really is a privilege to be here," Sanchez said. "And once you get here, you know, all of the excitement of it and distractions, really, you just focus on playing."

That's also what the Jets are doing with their game plan. Ryan is no longer using the color-coded system that he created for Sanchez earlier this season to help him better respond to certain game situations.

"It's not as much the red-yellow-green," Ryan said. "We've kind of moved past that a little bit. It's just focusing on the job at hand."

Added Sanchez: "It's just talking through situations and stuff between him and I."

Sanchez is hoping that all leads to a Hollywood-type ending -- you know, Roy Hobbs-style -- complete with confetti and a trophy.

"Every time you start to daydream just makes it more real, makes it more fun, more exciting and makes you want to focus even more," Sanchez said. "It's been a fun week, but we need to end it well."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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