EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- **Mark Sanchez played it right on Sunday in a 34-26 win over the New York Giants. He was smart with the football. He took advantage of New York's coverage on slot receiver Jordan Matthews, who finished his outstanding rookie season with eight catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. He threw short when the openings were there and he went down the field when the opportunity presented itself.
Sanchez completed 23-of-36 passes for 292 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, compiling a passer rating of 96.1 in winning for the fourth time in his eight Eagles starts since Nick Foles suffered a broken collarbone in Houston on November 2.
"We were pretty close to firing on all cylinders and it was just an awesome team win," Sanchez said. "We talked about it all week that we wanted to do well in all three phases, and special teams got us a touchdown, the defense got us a turnover and the offense scored some points. And we started fast. It was a joy to end it that way. We're not, obviously, where we want to be, but it's much better to end it this way than to be on the losing end."
Sanchez thinks he's improved in his first season back after missing all of 2013 because of a shoulder injury. He said he's never "completed this many balls. I feel like I'm seeing things pretty clear. We're hitting guys downfield, underneath, just feeling the pocket, getting better and better with these guys. It's been really fun, an awesome experience."
Sanchez signed a one-year deal in March to join the Eagles and his future is uncertain. He didn't want to speculate on his next NFL step after Sunday's game when asked if he would be "open" to returning to the Eagles in a backup role with Nick Foles healthy.
Instead, Sanchez spoke highly of the players and coaches around him who won 10 games and came so close to a repeat appearance in the NFL postseason. The offense, he said, is very close to dominating.
"We showed it at times and now the trick is to do it consistently, drive in and drive out," Sanchez said. "That's what everybody's working towards in the league. We know we have the potential and the right players and all that, so we'll figure it out and continue to get better."
A storyline for Sanchez during the week was his return to the Meadowlands after his five seasons with the New York Jets. He admitted that it meant something to him to win at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
"Any time you come back to a stadium where you have so many fond memories, playing here for five years -- four years, really. The first year we played in the old stadium -- just a ton of great memories here. I was happy my dad got to be here and he was just thrilled, a big smile on his face. It's great to come back to a stadium like this and win."
Sanchez mixed in 22 rushing yards, part of an offensive effort tha produced 426 total net yards, 23 touchdowns, 27 points and 7-of-16 third downs converted. It was the best performance for an offense that been inconsistent in the three straight losses that doomed the team's playoff chances.
How close are the Eagles to being an eltite team? Sanchez thinks very close.
"I think we're just knocking on the door and we had a couple of opportunities to do it, at least get a chance in the tournament, and that's all you need," he said. "You would like to be the first or second seed and get that bye week, that would be ideal. But a team like us, just to get in, that's really the name of the game. Unfortunately, 10 wins was not enough."