New York Jets quarterback Greg McElroy celebrates after throwing for his… (Al Bello / Getty Images )
Greg McElroy has saved the day for the New York Jets!
Well, at least he saved one day for the team, and that day was Sunday.
The second-year quarterback did two very important things for Jets fans in his first NFL appearance. He replaced starting QB Mark Sanchez, who has been struggling pretty much all season but was really struggling Sunday.
And on his very first drive, which started late in the third quarter, McElroy led the Jets to their only touchdown of the day, a one-yard pass from the quarterback to Jeff Cumberland on the first play of the fourth quarter.
It was just enough for New York to beat the Arizona Cardinals, 7-6, and keep its faint playoff hopes alive at 5-7. It also catapulted McElroy into Jets lore, as well as a quarterback controversy that also involves second-stringer Tim Tebow, who was inactive with two broken ribs.
“I'll let you guys know who's going to be the quarterback when I'm ready to,” Coach Rex Ryan told reporters after the game. “We'll look at our situation and evaluate as the week goes on.”
But this week belonged to McElroy, the team's seventh-round pick out of Alabama last year who finally replaced Sanchez after hearing his name chanted by the crowd at MetLife Stadium for three straight quarters.
“He just gave me a hug and said, 'Go get 'em,'" McElroy said of Sanchez, who completed 10 of 21 passes for 97 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions before being pulled.
In addition to the scoring drive, McElroy also led the team on a key possession that ran the final 7:55 off the clock for the victory. That drive included a 13-yard completion to Jeremy Kerley on third-and-nine, one of the many plays that garnered an enthusiastic response from the crowd.
“It was fun,” McElroy said. “We were having a good time. It was exciting to get a shot and go in there.”
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.