Tebow was hurt at Seattle 2 weeks ago, but initial X-rays were negative. He played three offensive snaps at St. Louis last Sunday, and Ryan said that was a product of the Rams showing certain defensive looks.
But Tebow continued to experience soreness, which intensified Tuesday morning. Tebow was a full participant in practice that day, but an MRI exam and CT scan later that night revealed the fractures, of which Ryan was then informed.
Tebow was questionable for the game, and Ryan made him active against the Patriots after speaking with him, and having the quarterback undergo a pregame evaluation. Tebow also refused any pain-killing injections before the game.
"I've always said this: Mighty men play this game and there are guys that play where some people wouldn't even think about stepping on the field,"
Ryan said. "A lot of guys will play. In this case, there was a thing about he could protect himself and he could've played in that game.
"He absolutely 100 percent could've played in that game."
But Tebow took no snaps on offense or special teams, and third-stringer Greg McElroy was inactive - leaving the Jets with just one healthy quarterback in their biggest game of the season.
Starter Mark Sanchez had two costly turnovers early in the game that the Patriots turned into touchdowns, and left many in the crowd at MetLife Stadium chanting for Tebow to replace him. But the backup stood on the sideline throughout, with a cap on his head and his hands in his pockets as the Patriots quickly turned the game into a laugher.
The fact he was even in uniform took some convincing by Tebow.
"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 said after the game.
* Jim Harbaugh expects Alex Smith to be medically cleared to play. Still, the 49ers coach did not announce who will start at quarterback at New Orleans. Harbaugh says it serves no purpose to his team and organization to let anybody know what his plan at quarterback is for Sunday's game against the Saints. Harbaugh also refutes reports earlier this week that he already has told Smith and Colin Kaepernick that Kaepernick will continue as the team's starter after making his first NFL start during Monday's rout of the Chicago Bears.
* The status of Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler remains uncertain because of a concussion, although coach Lovie Smith said he is optimistic about Cutler's return. Cutler, who missed Monday night's 32-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, is listed as questionable against the Minnesota Vikings. Whether he plays in Sunday's game at Soldier Field hinges on passing a test from an independent neurologist Saturday. It's possible Cutler's status could change before the game.
* The San Diego Chargers placed left tackle Jared Gaither on injured reserve, ending an unproductive season for a player expected to shore up a shaky offensive line. Gaither played in only four games this season. He missed almost all of training camp and the first three games with a back injury. He injured his groin late in a loss at New Orleans and played in only two games since. Undrafted rookie Mike Harris has filled in.
Gaither was signed off waivers after Marcus McNeill was hurt late last year, and played well in the final five games. The Chargers gave Gaither a 4-year, $24.5 million contract in March.