EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Tim Tebow insists he never lost his passion for playing while he was out of the NFL.
He’s also not ready to say goodbye to football just yet, sprinkling in a little classic Tebow Time for at least one more night.
Tebow threw two touchdown passes and an interception in his final opportunity to make Philadelphia’s roster, and the Eagles fell to the New York Jets 24-18 in the teams’ preseason finale Thursday night.
“I don’t know if this rekindled it, because I think I always had it,” Tebow said. “Sometimes when things are taken away, you realize how much you really do love it.”
Tebow, competing with Matt Barkley to be the Eagles’ No. 3 quarterback, flashed some of the playmaking skills and maddening inconsistency that have made him so polarizing. He finished 11 of 17 for 189 yards — with a few scattered throws, including one wayward toss that landed in the MetLife Stadium stands — and added 32 rushing yards on four carries against the Jets (3-1).
“I’m not going to worry about what I can’t control,” Tebow said. “It’s a blessing to be able to come out here and play the game I love. It was a lot of fun out there tonight and I had a blast.”
Tebow last played in a regular-season game with the Jets in 2012. He was a training camp cut by New England in 2013. He worked as a college football analyst on the SEC Network last year, but maintained his dream of making it back to the NFL.
The Eagles signed him in April, and now Chip Kelly must decide whether it’s Barkley, who was 4 of 9 for 45 yards and an interception, or Tebow behind Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez for the Eagles (3-1).
“Everything goes into the decision,” Kelly said of evaluating the roster. “It just can’t be one game, this is it, make or break. This isn’t ‘American Idol.'”
Tebow finished the preseason 21 of 36 for 286 yards, including the TD passes to Rasheed Bailey and Freddie Martino on Thursday night. He had 82 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Observations from the game:
The Jets had their own quarterback competition going, with Matt Flynn and Josh Johnson making their debuts. Flynn played the first half and finished 10 of 14 for 136 yards with two TDs and an interception, while Johnson was 7 of 12 for 82 yards and had 76 yards rushing on seven carries.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is the starter while Geno Smith recovers from a broken jaw. Rookie Bryce Petty will likely be the No. 3 quarterback.
“It’ll be tough,” coach Todd Bowles said of choosing between Flynn and Johnson. “They bring different dynamics to the game.”
Both teams rested most of their regulars, although LB Kiko Alonso made his debut for the Eagles and had two tackles in his one series. Alonso, acquired from Buffalo for LeSean McCoy, tore his anterior cruciate ligament last summer, dealt with a concussion during training camp and was scratched last week with tendinitis in his surgically repaired knee.
Jets CB Darrin Walls had the first of his two interceptions on Barkley’s second pass of the game, and set up the Jets’ first score, an 18-yard TD catch by Chris Owusu from Flynn. His second came on short throw by Tebow early in the fourth quarter.
Eagles K Cody Parkey was in uniform, but is dealing with a groin injury and didn’t play. Backup punter Kip Smith was used at kicker and made field goals of 23 and 20 yards — but missed two extra-point attempts.
MAKING THEIR CASE
Eagles: Rookie RB Raheem Mostert, an undrafted free agent out of Purdue, had 69 yards on 15 carries and caught eight passes for 93 yards. … CB Jaylen Watkins had three tackles and an INT.
Jets: RB Zac Stacy had 68 yards on 20 carries and caught a 5-yard TD pass, while Daryl Richardson ran for 72 yards and a TD on 22 attempts. … Owusu led New York with five catches for 72 yards and a score.
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