“We didn’t, obviously, play our best game and it’s disappointing,” said coach Norv Turner, who was trying to guide the No. 2-seeded Bolts to their second AFC title game in three seasons.
The Chargers (13-4) saw their 11-game winning streak end.
“It was the best defense I’ve played this year,” said LaDainian Tomlinson, who after nine seasons might have played his final game with the Chargers. “Run, pass, and they are really prepared. Hats off to them.”
Sanchez, playing in his native Southern California, went from looking like the rookie that he is to a guy who has now has two straight playoff wins on the road.
He was intercepted by Quentin Jammer midway through the third quarter, but the Jets got the ball back on an interception when the ball ricocheted off Vincent Jackson and into the hands of cornerback Darrelle Revis as both were sprawled on the ground.
The Jets weren’t able to capitalize on that pickoff, but Rivers’ second interception was costly. On second-and-9 from his 5, Rivers underthrew Antonio Gates, who hadn’t even turned around, with safety Jim Leonhard intercepting and returning it to the 16.
On third down, Sanchez rolled right and threw to Keller, who shed linebacker Tim Dobbins in the back corner of the end zone and made a sprawling 2-yard catch that put the Jets ahead 10-7.
Sanchez and the rest of the Jets ran over to congratulate Keller, then the rookie QB kept running to the bench, stopping once to celebrate with a teammate.
“Once I got to the secondary, I had one tackle to break and I did, and it was off to the end zone,” said Greene, who had 128 yards on 23 carries. “A lot of people didn’t know about me, but they know about the Jets.”
Greene rushed for 135 yards and a TD in last week’s playoff win against Cincinnati.
San Diego’s All-Pro kicker Nate Kaeding missed three field goals. He was wide left from 36 yards on San Diego’s second possession and was short from 57 yards as the first-half clock expired. With the Chargers trailing by 10 with 4:38 to go, he was wide right from 40.
Ryan pumped his fist and smiled after Kaeding’s third miss.
The last time these teams met in the playoffs, after the 2004 season, the rookie Kaeding was wide right from 40 yards on a wet field in overtime. The Jets moved down the field and won it 20-17 on Doug Brien’s 28-yard field goal.
Five years later, the Jets left Qualcomm Stadium winners again.
“We’re not supposed to be here,” Faneca said. “All week, people were basically thanking us for providing the game, and we went out and took it.”
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