The nightmare continues for quarterback Mark Sanchez, who had one of the worst outings of his professional career in the Jets’ 7-6 win over the Cardinals.
Sanchez was yanked from the game in the third quarter in favor of backup quarterback Greg McElroy, who was elevated to the active roster in place of the injured Tim Tebow. It was McElroy’s first appearance in an NFL game.
“Obviously it wasn’t my day,” Sanchez said. “I didn’t expect it. Doesn’t matter, it’s the coach’s call. He wants to win the game, so he’s going to do his best to do that.”
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The Jets defense was there to bail out the sputtering offense throughout the game, limiting the Cardinals to just three points in the first half and just five first downs for the whole game, tied for the Cardinals’ lowest total in franchise history.
With 4:48 left in the third quarter, the Jets inserted McElroy into the game as the crowd rose to its feet to cheer.
In just over a quarter of work, McElroy was an efficient 5-of-7 for 29 yards with a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland early in the fourth quarter. It was enough for the Jets to win by the narrowest of margins as his teammates seemed to feed off the emotion of the crowd.
“It was tough to gauge the energy. I didn’t have a decibel meter where I could tell what the crowd’s noise was,” McElroy said. “I was excited to get a shot to go in there.”
There could have been more glory for McElroy, but the Jets’ final drive of the game ended on the Cardinals’ 1-yard line as they chose to run out the clock rather than get another touchdown.
“I really liked the way he controlled that clock. It’s no surprise, he comes from a great program,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “He was smart; he knew how to handle that clock. He did a tremendous job of it; he’s smart.”
After the game, there was no decision on who would get the nod next Sunday against the Jaguars. Ryan said that any possible change would be coming later this week, which could allow Tebow the chance to start in his hometown.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.