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Green & White: 2 TD Strikes for Greg McElroy

Posted Aug 3, 2013

Updated 9:02 p.m. ET

The Jets' fourth Green & White Scrimmage in the last five years at SUNY Cortland was definitely not a case of the defense being ahead of the offense. But where the offense came from maybe was a surprise.

The starting quarterback battle didn't resolve itself much. Unofficially, Geno Smith completed nine of 16 passes for 79 yards and engineered one field goal in his four series, while Mark Sanchez went 6-for-11 for 91 yards, a last-play 57-yard TD strike to Stephen Hill, an interception by Antonio Cromartie and two sacks. He produced a field goal to go with the TD in five drives. Both QBs worked with both the first and second offenses.

But what of Greg McElroy? The third-year man came in for two series, a total of eight plays. All he did was hit all five of his passes for 129 yards and a pair of touchdown strikes, 48 yards to rookie free agent WR Ryan Spadola and 70 yards to first-year WR Vidal Hazelton.

On balance, head coach Rex Ryan proclaimed the scrimmage, conducted in front of 6,101 fans at Cortland Stadium, a hit.

"I think that might have been our best scrimmage we’ve had since we’ve been coming here," Ryan said after the 80-minute session was over. "Very competitive. We did a lot of good things and then some not so good things. Obviously, McElroy, I don’t know what that QBR is but that was pretty impressive. But he stepped up and made some nice throws.

"And on defense you saw a couple of young guys standing out a little bit but Cro has the nice interception on defense. I think we had three touchdown passes for our offense to three different guys. Stephen with that nice one from Mark late was nice to see."

Cromartie said his experience with the West Coast offense helped him reel in the Sanchez overthrow of Vidal Hazelton over his shoulder near the goal line.

"I was in press coverage. It's just something that you have to expect coming from a West Coast offense. When I was playing against a West Coast Offense, once they get close to the 50-yard line, it's 'take a shot' time no matter what down it is. So my thing was try to get the receiver off balance, then once the ball is in the air I just try to go get the ball."

Hill said the last play of the night, his catch and run over Ellis Lankster, "basically was an opportunity to make a big play. Mark definitely put it out there for me to go get it, especially on the run, so that was a great play.

QB Matt Simms also saw action. Unlike last year's Green & White, which he ended with a TD pass, Simms went 3-of-9 passing for 19 yards, an interception and a potential fourth-and-goal scoring toss to free agent WR Zach Rogers that was swatted down by first-year DT Tevita Finau.

Ryan and coordinator Dennis Thurman take pride in their defense, and the "D" showed up on occasions while turning people loose on others. For instance, on 15 of the offense's carries, it gained 45 yards, a 3.0 average. But there were two other runs less contained — Bilal Powell's early 25-yard burst and Chad Spann's late 20-yard scamper. Spann, signed at the start of camp, led all rushers with 48 yards on seven totes.

On the pass rush, LB Calvin Pace got the first sack of Sanchez and S Dawan Landry touched down Sanchez after he tripped on his dropback. LB Ricky Sapp flashed with some good rushes and S Antonio Allen with a few good tackles in the run game.

Before Cromartie's theft, first-year CB Eric Crocker had the night's first interception, of Simms. There were no fumbles.

For the night the Jets offense, again unofficially, ran 63 plays and gained 407 yards, a healthy 6.5 yards per play.

The kickers also had good showings. Billy Cundiff continued his hot streak of late, going 5-for-5, including kicks from 51 and 48 yards out. Nick Folk was 2-for-3 with a miss from 48 yards out plus a pair of extra points. Robert Malone (five punts, 53.2-yard gross) and Ryan Quigley (four punts, 54.0 gross) were even in the crisp, clear Central New York air.

"Our punters, I had them punt with the wind," Ryan said. "but Ray Guy would've been in trouble against those two. I liked the way we kicked the ball."

One down development was an early ankle injury to third-round rookie Brian Winters, who opened at LG with Stephen Peterman (shoulder) still sidelined. Winters did walk off under his own power and Ryan said he didn't think the injury is that severe.

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