EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Tim Tebow stood on the sideline with a cap on and his hands in his pockets as Jets fans chanted his name.
They wanted to see the backup quarterback in a 49-19 blowout loss to New England on Thursday night. Turns out, there was little chance Tebow would see a snap.
Tebow, who didn't play at all, revealed after the game that he broke two ribs in the Jets' loss at Seattle two weeks ago.
"They need a little time to get better," Tebow said, adding that his breathing has been affected by the injury.
He was listed as questionable for the game with a rib ailment, but fully practiced Wednesday. Coach Rex Ryan had reservations about making Tebow active, deciding to use him only "if we absolutely had to have him," and leaving third-stringer Greg McElroy inactive.
"I appreciate his concern," Tebow said. "I had to do a little bit of talking just to dress, but I just want to be there for my teammates in case they needed me in an emergency situation."
Tebow has had a limited role in the Jets' offense this season after being acquired from the Denver Broncos in March. He was expected to add a dynamic element to the offense, particularly in the wildcat package, but he is averaging only about seven plays on offense.
He is playing regularly as the personal punt protector on special teams, but thinks the injury occurred on an offensive play against the Seahawks.
"I didn't really know," he said. "I just kept playing and started to feel it later on."
He played in the Jets' win at St. Louis on Sunday, but had an MRI exam Monday that revealed the extent of the injury.
Tebow has been practicing, but isn't certain how long he will be hindered by the injury. He hopes to be healthy enough to play in the Jets' next game against Arizona on Dec. 2.
"I was ready to go if they needed me," he said. "Obviously, it wasn't ideal. I just wanted to be there for my teammates and do whatever I can to help."
Ryan said the injury appeared to get "progressively worse" as the week went on and noticed his breathing sounded different.
"I was standing there and I was like, 'I'm not going to play this kid,'" Ryan said. "I wouldn't play my son in that kind of situation. To Tim's credit, he wanted to be there for his team."