The New York Jets ended their six game losing streak today with a 27-23 come from behind victory against the Buffalo Bills. After a first half injury that briefly forced him to leave the game, Sam Darnold returned to overcome a second half interception and lead a pair of touchdown drives, including a game winning one in the final minutes. The Jets dropped from prospectively first in the NFL Draft standings down to fifth with the win but it is hard to complain when a win is on the back of your 21 year rookie quarterback. Darnold is now 4-6 as a starter this season.
On the day, Darnold finished 16/24, 170 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He also rushed for 10 yards and avoided being sacked. There were a few ugly moments but the most encouraging part of Darnold’s day was how he responded to his interception, after which he went 9/13, 119 yards with a touchdown and no more turnovers.He also did this:
— Joe Caporoso (@JCaporoso) December 9, 2018
Those two plays demonstrate his ability to improvise and to drop the ball into a tight window when attacking down the field. If he can do those things consistently, the Jets are going to be just fine offensively long term when they improve the infrastructure around him. Everything Darnold is doing right now is in spite of his coaching staff and mostly in spite of his supporting cast. The Jets game plan was still elementary and generally putrid today but Darnold was good enough to overcome it in spurts, particularly in the fourth quarter.
It was an encouraging day for Robby Anderson who is coming on a bit these past two games. Today he finished with 4 receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown. Elijah McGuire also had his best game of the season, finishing with 83 yards on 20 touches, along with the game winning touchdown.Defensively, the Jets allowed tons of yards but they made plays, the inverse of what they usually do. Despite his well know propensity to scramble, the Jets allowed Josh Allen to rush for 101 yards and a touchdown. However, they did force him to cough up the ball, sack him three times and held him to a pedestrian day throwing the football (18/36, 206 yards, 2 interceptions, 0 touchdowns). Trumaine Johnson now has 3 interceptions over the past two games, after pulling in two today and Neville Hewitt was excellent filling in for the recently suspended Darron Lee, pacing the Jets with 8 tackles and recording half a sack. Brandon Copeland also added another sack.
This was an ugly but entertaining game that appeared like it was going to be headlined by Allen outplaying Darnold but the fourth quarter changed the narrative. It was an encouraging day for Darnold’s development and the perfect example of why you need your rookie quarterback to play as much as possible. Today was a positive step for his development, everything else is just footnotes when you move to 4-9.