Greg McElroy leads Jets to first touchdown of preseason

Greg McElroy, left, scrambles away from Philadelphia Eagles

Greg McElroy, left, scrambles away from Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Brian Rolle in the first half of a preseason game. (Aug. 30, 2012) (Credit: AP)

PHILADELPHIA -- Cue the calls for Greg McElroy.

The third-string quarterback did what Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow could not do this preseason: lead the Jets' offense into the end zone.

After 37 fruitless drives comprised of 198 plays during four preseason games, the Jets finally scored a touchdown Thursday nightagainst the Eagles as McElroy threw a 6-yard pass to Terrance Ganaway.

"Well, we scored. So that was good," Rex Ryan said.

But the first preseason win remained elusive.

The Jets finished at 0-4 with a 28-10 loss to the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, marking the first time the team went winless in the preseason since 1993.

"Obviously, I would much rather be 4-0 in the preseason. I hate to lose at anything," Ryan said. "But again, they start counting for real [Sept. 9]. There's no excuses next week when we play Buffalo."

Thursday night's game was the last chance for backups and bubble guys to prove their worth. Some succeeded. Others, however, could have left more on the field.

At 9 o'clock Friday night, the final 53-man rosters are due in the league office. That means Ryan will pay close attention during his tape study.

"We'll take a hard look at this film," he said after the loss. "Some guys stepped up. I thought some guys had an opportunity and I wasn't real happy with [their performance]. But I think we'll have enough depth [this season]."

The Jets already were the first team since the 1977 Atlanta Falcons to fail to reach the end zone in the first three preseason games. But they ended their drought at the 8:55 mark of the second quarter.

The mild-mannered Ganaway didn't boast about being the only Jet to score a touchdown this preseason. Instead, he cited the collective effort of the coaching staff, the offensive line and the running backs -- and, of course, his quarterback.

"Greg threw me a nice, soft ball. I caught it. And it was a walk in the end zone," said Ganaway, who was used as a fullback on the play.

McElroy's touchdown pass, of course, is meaningless in the grand scheme of things. But his performance was a reminder of what the Jets have waiting in the wings behind Sanchez and Tebow.

Ryan said Wednesday that Tebow would be the next man up if Sanchez went down. But he highlighted McElroy's poise in the pocket.

"I thought Greg McElroy did a nice job when he was in there," Ryan said. He finished 12-for-17 for 90 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 33 yards.

McElroy -- who had a 13-yard scramble on third down in the first quarter and converted a fourth down with a 1-yard run on the touchdown drive -- had a first-half passer rating of 108.9, completing 10 of 14 passes. He started the third quarter, but fourth-stringer Matt Simms (3-for-6, 9 yards) entered with 8:41 remaining in the frame.

Phil Simms' son, however, didn't fare so well against the Eagles. The Jets had four three-and-outs (for minus-13 yards) during his first four series.

Simms was sacked four times for a loss of 20 yards.

"I don't know how many sacks they had,'' Ryan said, "but it looked like they were going to get a record there."

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