EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Jets needed someone to save the game, and possibly their season.
McElroy threw a touchdown pass to cap his first NFL drive early in the fourth quarter, leading New York to an ugly 7-6 victory Sunday and sending the Arizona Cardinals to their eighth straight loss.
"It's just something that I sensed, that I felt," Ryan said. "When you're around this game long enough, you get that feeling that, 'You know what? I've seen enough, and it's time to make that change.'"
With Tebow inactive as he heals from two broken ribs and the Jets needing to win their last five games to even have a chance of making the playoffs, Ryan pulled Sanchez for McElroy late in the third quarter - as the crowd at MetLife Stadium cheered wildly.
"I'm really happy for the team, and really happy for Greg," Sanchez said. "He came in and played his butt off."
Fans chanted "Mc-El-Roy!" throughout the first three quarters as Sanchez went 10 of 21 for 97 yards and three interceptions, including two by former Jets safety Kerry Rhodes.
"It's tough to kind of gauge the energy," McElroy said, smiling. "Obviously, I didn't have, like, a decibel meter where I could tell what the crowd noise was, but I was excited about getting a shot to get in there."
As McElroy got the offense moving, Sanchez stood on the sideline along with Tebow and next to offensive coordinator Tony Sparano.
"From the get-go, from the first play, it just wasn't my day," Sanchez said.
If not, Ryan will have to take a hard look at McElroy, a 2011 seventh-round pick out of Alabama who missed last season with a thumb injury.
"I'll let you guys know who's going to be the quarterback when I'm ready to," Ryan said. "We'll look at our situation and evaluate as the week goes on."
"Make no mistake: they want to win."
Lindley was harassed by a defense that took full advantage of an unsteady rookie quarterback. He went 10 of 31 for 72 yards and an interception while playing for Kevin Kolb, who missed his sixth straight game with a rib injury.
"I felt we were going to chip away and get something going, but it kind of stopped for us," Lindley said. "A lot of things went wrong that could have been done better. You have to pick up and move on."
Things started on an ominous note for the Jets as Sanchez was intercepted by Rhodes on New York's first offensive play. Ryan criticized Rhodes in his book "Play Like You Mean It" last year for being a "selfish" player, and New York traded him after the 2009 season.
"It's a tough situation for (Sanchez) now where everyone is pretty much against him," Rhodes said. "Whatever he does that's not positive will be taken like it was today. I talked to him during the game when got benched. I went over there and talked to him on the side and told him to keep his head up."
NOTES: New York's Nick Folk hit the left upright on a 46-yard field-goal attempt and dinged a 52-yarder off the right upright. ... The Jets, ranked 30th against the run, held the Cardinals to 67 yards rushing, 40 coming on Johnson's fake punt. ... Shonn Greene quietly had his second 100-yard rushing game of the season, 104 on 24 carries. ... Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald was held to one catch for 23 yards.