As the Jets' deficit grew larger Thursday night, so too did the crescendo of the chants for Tim Tebow.
But little did Jets fans know that their backup quarterback wasn't even healthy enough to play.
"I had to do a little bit of talking just to dress," he said. "I just wanted to be there for my teammates in case they needed me in an emergency situation."
Rex Ryan said he considered deactivating Tebow for the game because his rib injury got progressively worse during the week. But Ryan ultimately chose not to include him among the seven Jets declared inactive. Nevertheless, he said he planned to use Tebow only "if we absolutely had to have him."
"I think as the week went on, it seemed to get progressively worse," Ryan said. "I wasn't going to put him out there -- he had practiced and things, but a couple of days ago, I was noticing him like, man, you could tell he was hurt. His breathing was a little different and I was standing there and thinking, 'Well, shoot, I'm not going to play this kid.' I wouldn't play my son if it was that kind of situation.
"But to Tim's credit, he wanted to be here for his team. There's no doubt. If you left it up to him, he was going to play. I was like, 'Look, if we absolutely have to have him to win a football game, then we may consider it.' To me, that would be the only way I was going to play Tim."
Third-string -- and seemingly healthy -- quarterback Greg McElroy was listed as inactive.
"All through the week, he had practiced as the backup quarterback," Ryan said of Tebow. "The thought did go through my mind to possibly deactivate him, but when he came out here, he felt that if he had to go, that he could get it done. And that was my decision."
Tebow said the injury occurred during the Jets' 28-7 road loss to the Seahawks on Nov. 11. He didn't remember the exact play but believes he was playing on offense at the time. "Didn't really notice it and kept playing," he said, adding that he "started to feel it later on."
Tebow was unsure if the injury would force him out of action, and if so, for how long. "I hope not," he said. "I was ready to go if they needed me [against the Patriots].''
Tebow saw his most action of the season in Seattle, completing all three of his passes for 8 total yards and rushing four times for 14 yards. Three of his 10 snaps were nullified by penalties.
And despite the rib injury, Tebow played in St. Louis on Sunday, although he had only three offensive snaps in the Jets' 27-13 win over the Rams, losing a yard on a shovel pass and rushing twice for a loss of five yards. After the game, Ryan said Tebow's limited playing time was due to some of St. Louis' defensive schemes.
"We had planned for Tim to have a big part of the game," Ryan said. "But they gave us some looks that we really weren't expecting and that kind of shut that down a little more than we had originally planned."