EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Mark Sanchez era in a New York Jets uniform may have come to an end on Sunday.

It took three interceptions, two missed field goals, a 21.4 QB rating, a 47.6 completion percentage for Jets fans to finally get their wish of having the Jets back-up quarterback replace a slumping Sanchez.

The only problem was, Tim Tebow was made inactive prior to the game with a pair of broken ribs.

QB Greg McElroy celebrates throwing the game winning TD with TE Konrad Reuland as the Jets beat the Cards 7-6 ( Photo)

Greg McElroy, the team’s third string quarterback who was made active just hours before kick-off, at the 4:48 mark in the third quarter, entered the game as Sanchez — hat on, helmet to the side — grabbed the clipboard. And on his first professional drive he led the Jets on a 10-play, 69 yard game-winning drive that was capped by a play-action bootleg rollout to the right side where McElroy found a wide open Jeff Cumberland in the endzone for a one-yard score which gave the Jets a 7-3 lead.

“To tell you the truth, it was a bit of a floater. It was a run reverse option and I almost didn’t want to throw it, but I had to just let it go. Jeff (Cumberland) did a great job of selling the run and Brandon Moore did a fantastic job getting in up front and trying to skirt the edge. It was just great execution,” McElroy said.

He would leave victorious after managing the Jets offense on two long drives where a combined 13:48 was elapsed in the second half, making for a shining outcome on a muddy game 7-6.

Rex Ryan tossed aside thoughts of the bigger picture and went with a win-now mentality, sending in the game-manager McElroy in attempt to earn a ball-control victory. After a first-half where the Jets were stagnant like the heavy fog that surrounded MetLife Stadium, the offense rallied about their new quarterback.

“It was just something I sensed, something I felt. When you’ve been around the league long enough, you get that sort of feeling where you say ‘I’ve seen enough’. Again I have confidence in Mark. I confidence in Tim. I confidence in Greg. But at that stage of the game I just thought it was time to make that move,” Ryan said after the game.

Sanchez was 10-21 for 97 yards O TDs, 3 INTs and was sacked three times. The fourth year starter went 1-5 for 2 yards and a sack in the second half before being benched for McElroy.

“It just wasn’t my day. I didn’t throw it well, didn’t see the first play very well. It’s unfortunate, but I’m really happy for the team and I’m happy for Greg,” Sanchez sad.

It was, however, a good day for the Jets rushing attack as Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell combined for 162 yards (Greene with 106 yards and Powell 58). With the offensive line dominating, the Jets were able to ride their running game to ease their passing woes.

The third-year player from Alabama not only sparked a sputtering offense with the help of the ground game, but bailed out a defense that pitched a near-perfect game.

In the first half rookie Ryan Lindley and the Cardinals offense could only muster two first downs, had four three-and-outs, an interception and a fourth down stop. After watching Tom Brady and Patriots pick a part his defense on third downs last Thursday, Rex Ryan’s defense did not allow a third down conversion forcing the Cardinals to go 0-15 on the afternoon.

“That was so important to bounce back,” Mike DeVito said,”and put that Jets defense back out there. You know we’ve had some rough ones this year, but today really showed (we can play well) and built our confidence back up and showed that we know that we can we go out there and play in this system, play the way we know we can play (and that) we can be a scary defense

Ex-Jet Kerry Rhodes had a scripted Hollywood ending in his first game against his former team. Rhodes, who was called “a selfish-ass guy” by Ryan in his autobiography, picked off Sanchez twice while forcing a fumble on running back Khalil Bell. No play, however, was bigger than the first offensive possession for the Jets, which saw Sanchez drop back to pass and lobbed a ball over the flailing arms of a defensive lineman — which made for an easy interception and tough hole to dig out of.

Former kicker Jay Feely accounted for the Cardinals’ only points on the afternoon after connecting from 35 and 48 yards. The Jets kicker, on the other hand, struck the upright twice — a missed 46-yarder that hit the right upright in the first quarter and then a 52-yard attempt that met the left upright in the second quarter.

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