Sanchez, the fifth overall pick in this year's draft, threw for 272 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut, Thomas Jones scored twice, and the Jets shut down Houston's high-powered offense in a 24-7 win Sunday.
It was easy to see Rex Ryan's stamp on this defense in his first game as Jets head coach after leading the Ravens' stingy unit for the past several years. Houston's offense got past midfield just once in the first three quarters. The Texans were outgained 462-183, Steve Slaton was held to 17 yards rushing and Andre Johnson had 35 yards receiving.
Matt Schaub struggled, too, completing 18 of 33 passes for 166 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.
Sanchez, the fifth overall pick in the draft, was poised and confident from the start, often evading the rush to complete key passes. He completed at least three throws as he was being knocked down.
His first NFL touchdown came in the second quarter when he found Chansi Stuckey wide open on a 30-yard reception to put the Jets up 10-3. After the score, television cameras flashed to a smiling Joe Namath, who watched the game from a luxury suite at Reliant Stadium.
That score came after a fumble by Slaton at the end of an 18-yard catch and run. Donald Strickland knocked the ball out and it landed in Mike DeVito's hands.
Sanchez's only big mistake came in the fourth quarter. John Busing intercepted his pass and immediately fumbled it. Houston's Dominique Barber picked up the ball and ran down the right sideline 48 yards for a touchdown to make it 17-7 with about 12 minutes left in the game.
The Jets answered quickly when Jones rumbled 38 yards for a touchdown four plays later.
Sanchez distributed the ball well among several receivers. Jerricho Cotchery finished with six receptions for 90 yards, tight end Dustin Keller had four for 94, and Stuckey had four for 64.
Jones had 107 yards rushing and Leon Washington added 60 to keep the running game going.
The Jets used an 87-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard run by Jones to push their lead to 17-0 midway through the third quarter. That score was set up by a 9-yard run by Washington, who took the snap out of the wildcat formation.
A 24-yard field goal by Jay Feely in the first quarter gave New York a 3-0 lead.
Linebacker David Harris led New York's defense, finishing with six solo tackles and a sack.
The loss continued a Houston streak of futility in September under coach Gary Kubiak. The Texans are 2-9 in the month and have lost their last six in September.
The few thousand fans who remained when the game ended booed loudly as the last seconds ticked off the clock.