If Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow don’t get it done in the red zone, the New York Jets can turn to Greg McElroy.
After all, he was the only quarterback to lead the Jets to a touchdown this preseason.
“That was obviously a point of emphasis for us, was just red-area execution, and we were able to do it for at least that one drive,” McElroy said following a 28-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night.
The Jets (0-4) were the first team in 35 years to go three preseason games without a touchdown, matching the 1977 Atlanta Falcons for offensive futility.
McElroy ended that drought. His reward will be a seat on the bench.
“I’m glad we got it,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said. “I’m not going to sit here and say I wish we (hadn’t scored). I would’ve liked to have saved it and tack it on next week.”
The Jets open against Buffalo on Sept. 9. The Eagles will play at Cleveland.
Sanchez, Tebow and most of the Jets starters didn’t play in this battle between backups and guys fighting for roster spots.
Michael Vick and all of Philadelphia’s starters watched from the sideline.
Trent Edwards threw for 197 yards and two TDs to help the Eagles (4-0) finish the preseason undefeated for the first time since 1995.
None of that will matter when the games count.
Hours before kickoff, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie stopped just short of issuing a win-or-else ultimatum to coach Andy Reid.
Lurie said the team must make a “substantial improvement” for Reid to return for his 15th season next year. He added another 8-8 record would be “unacceptable.”
“I don’t have a level or anything like that,” Lurie said. “I want to be clear about that. You try to make the best judgment you can after the season.”
Reid’s contract runs through 2013.
“I don’t care about that stuff,” Reid said. “He has high expectations. I have high expectations. Let’s go play. We surely won’t be satisfied with 8-8. We’re striving for better than that. I’m not worried about it. I understand the business. I have a great relationship with Jeffrey.”
The Jets hadn’t scored a TD in the 13 quarters before McElroy tossed a 6-yard TD pass to Terrance Ganaway midway through the second. Sanchez and Tebow failed to do that in 35 possessions.
McElroy finished 12 of 17 for 90 yards and one TD. He also rushed for 33 yards.
“Obviously we went out there with the intention and the hope to score some touchdowns, so we were able to get one,” McElroy said. “The execution was great. I told the guys when we were out on the field, I said: ‘Hey, let’s just make the most of this opportunity, you don’t get down here very often, let’s not take it for granted, let’s punch it in.'”
A seventh-round draft pick out of Alabama last year, McElroy spent his rookie season on injured reserve after dislocating his right thumb while playing against Philadelphia last preseason.
Sanchez was 24 of 35 (68.6 percent) for 203 yards with two interceptions and six sacks. Tebow completed 36.1 percent (13 for 36) of his passes for 151 yards with two interceptions and seven sacks.
Despite Tebowmania, there’s no controversy in New York. Sanchez is the clear-cut starter, but the way the Jets use Tebow will be intensely scrutinized.
Eagles rookie QB Nick Foles, who all but officially won the backup job with three impressive performances, was 4 of 6 for 46 yards before giving way to Edwards.
On Edwards’ first drive, Bryce Brown ran in from the 2 to tie it at 7.
Edwards threw a 31-yard TD pass to Mardy Gilyard late in the second quarter to give the Eagles a 14-7 lead.
Nick Folk kicked a 58-yard field goal as the first half expired to cut it to 14-10.
Edwards connected with Brett Brackett on a 7-yard TD pass in the fourth. Chris Polk’s 3-yard TD run made it 28-10.
Edwards, a veteran and former starter in Buffalo, is competing for a roster spot with Mike Kafka, who began training camp as the backup to Vick.
He’ll surely land a home if he gets cut.
“I want to be here,” Edwards said. “This is the team I want to play for. I feel I can help these guys.”
NOTES: The Eagles beat the Jets 45-19 last December. Philadelphia entered that game at 5-8 while New York was 8-5. … Jets DE Quinton Coples had a sack in each preseason game and finished with 4½. … Newly acquired RT Jason Smith entered the game for the Jets in the second quarter. Smith, the No. 2 overall pick in 2009, was acquired from St. Louis to back up Austin Howard. … Eagles rookie DE Vinny Curry had two sacks.
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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.