If the Jets had been playing just about any team other than the Cardinals, there probably wouldn’t have been a happy ending to Mark Sanchez’s benching.
His three interceptions and inability to put points on the board against Arizona forced coach Rex Ryan to do what many have been calling for him to do all season. Greg McElroy promptly came in, led the Jets on a 69-yard touchdown and threw himself into the mix for the starting quarterback job in the weeks to come. He handled himself well enough on Sunday, thanks in part to an interception wiped out by an illegal contact penalty, and the Jets might as well see what he can do with a full week of practice since they can’t just turn back to Sanchez.
McElroy finished the game 5-of-7 for 29 yards and a touchdown pass to Jeff Cumberland. That was the only touchdown in a 7-6 Jets win that featured some truly terrible offensive football. Sanchez probably wasn’t even the worst quarterback on the field. Ryan Lindley was 10-of-31 for 72 yards and, frankly, those numbers make his day sound better than it was. The Cardinals had plenty of chances and couldn’t capitalize on a single one behind a quarterback whose presence in the lineup remains hard to understand. The Cardinals failed to convert any of their 15 third-down opportunities and picked up 137 overall.
The Jets did get some good work late from Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell, allowing them to grind out the clock in the fourth quarter with their slim lead. The win moves them to 5-7, but its real significance is that it moves them past the point where Sanchez was just the answer at quarterback. The door is wide open now and McElroy might be the first guy to get a chance to walk through it.