EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The return of Kerry Rhodes, the safety who was traded after Rex Ryan’s first season with the Jets, was a nightmare scenario for his old team from the very first throw.
Embattled quarterback Mark Sanchez, author of a Jets offense that coaches insist is improving each week, sent his first pass of the game to Rhodes. The boos rained down from the sparsest MetLife Stadium crowd of the season.
But it was only the start of a house of horrors that paused at halftime with the Cardinals up 3-0. The only points came courtesy of a 48-yard field goal from another former Jet, kicker Jay Feely, as time elapsed.
Before the half was over, Rhodes had another interception and returned it 30 yards, and Patrick Peterson grabbed a deep ball from Jets wide receiver Chaz Schilens, tracking the ball in tandem with Rhodes.
Despite all the defensive help, the Cardinals offense led by young quarterback Ryan Lindley couldn't manage to covert field position into points. The Cardinals got in the red zone on their second possession, but couldn't produce a yard on fourth-and-1 and turned the ball over.
The Jets had an opportunity to score in the first quarter when they got within range of a field goal, but Nick Folk's 46-yard attempt hit the left upright and rebounded back into the field. In the second quarter, Folk got a 52-yard try, which bounced off the right upright.
With just a few minutes in the half, Jets tight end Dustin Keller appeared to injure his left ankle as he chased a pass toward the Cardinals sideline. A play later, he left the game and was taken to the locker room. He was announced with an ankle injury and his return is questionable.
Sanchez finished 9-of-16 for 95 yards and three interceptions, while the rookie Lindley is 6-of-20 for 48 yards and one interception, grabbed by Jets safety LaRon Landry. Bilal Powell, who started the game at running back, had four carries for 17 yards while Shonn Greene had nine carries for 29 rushing yards.
Greg McElroy was the backup quarterback in the game after Tim Tebow, with two fractured ribs, was declared inactive. It was McElroy's first regular-season NFL game in uniform. He didn't get into the game, but after a few Sanchez interceptions, McElroy did get to hear an NFL stadium chanting his name.