Mark Sanchez Benched, Jets Beat Cardinals 7-6

Greg McElroy takes over, throws touchdown for Jets win

AP Images

The end of Mark Sanchez's tenure as the starting quarterback for the Jets has been hotly discussed since the moment the team traded for Tim Tebow. 

In a twist befitting this soap opera of a Jets season, Sanchez has finally been benched but Tebow, inactive with broken ribs, isn't the man who took over. Greg McElroy, the second-year player from Alabama, was the guy who did and he threw a touchdown pass to bring the Jets to a 7-6 win over the Cardinals. 

Sanchez earned his benching with three interceptions in the first half. They were the latest unneeded reminders about how much Sanchez is struggling with the basic tenets of the quarterback position right now. 

The crowd was not shy about making their displeasure with Sanchez known and the roar that greeted McElroy when he entered the game in the third quarter was like something you'd normally reserve for a bright moment in the history of a franchise. Benching the quarterback of your 4-7 team while trailing 3-0 against a team with seven straight losses is not a moment for glee. 

But McElroy inspired a little bit of it anyway by leading the team 69 yards in 10 plays for the game's only touchdown. He threw a one-yarder to Jeff Cumberland for the score, launching another mighty roar from the stands for a guy who might have stumbled into a starting job on Sunday. 

The offense, which had been horrendous to that point in the game, picked up on the ground with McElroy in the game. How much of this can really be attributed to him is hard to know, but the Jets were able to get that touchdown and then grind out the game behind Bilal Powell and Shonn Greene on the ground. 

McElroy didn't do anything particularly amazing over the course of his time on the field, but he didn't screw up and that's significant. The Jets can't win with turnovers like they had on Sunday and McElroy didn't make any. 

It helped that the Cardinals committed a pair of penalties to push the drive along. It helped even more that the Cardinals offense was so awful that it made the Jets actually seem somewhat competent when Sanchez wasn't throwing the ball to the opposition. 

But the fact that they beat a team quarterbacked by Ryan Lindley by only one point can't be ignored. Lindley, facing no pass rush most of the afternoon, missed passes by wide enough margins that they seemed to occasionally sail into the stands. 

It's a win and, mercifully, the end of Sanchez. Whether or not McElroy is the answer, Sanchez wasn't and the Jets have finally admitted what everyone else has been saying for years. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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