Sam Darnold’s Comeback Rescues the Jets’ Offense


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Before Sunday, no one would have called him a superhero, but to a depleted Jets team in search of any semblance of offense, Sam Darnold might as well have worn a cape in a 24-22 win over the Dallas Cowboys (3-3).

With Darnold under center for the first time since Week 1 after recovering from a bout of mononucleosis, the Jets (1-4) quickly quieted the “Let’s go, Cowboys” chants that broke out at MetLife Stadium and ran what looked like a completely different offense than the one they showed in their first four games.

In the first half alone, they scored three touchdowns, more than they had in the four previous games combined, and the offense had 247 total yards, more than it had in three of its previous games. Darnold finished with two touchdowns and one interception on 23-of-32 passing for 338 yards.

He showed some rust on the opening drive, completing only one pass, a 17-yard throw to Demaryius Thomas, but shook it off and led an 83-yard scoring drive in the team’s next series. “I felt like overall I was in good condition,” Darnold said. “I definitely felt like myself out there. Especially after the first pass to DT, after that pass I knew we were going to have a good game offensively.”

Darnold found tight end Ryan Griffin in the end zone with a 5-yard pass on the next drive, to extend the Jets’ lead to 21-3. The Cowboys’ Brett Maher kicked a 62-yard field goal with five seconds left in the half to trim the Jets’ lead to 21-6.

Darnold, who had 15 interceptions in his rookie season, started the second half with his first miscue of the season, missing a connection with Jamison Crowder that resulted in a turnover. He was saved by the Jets’ defense, which stymied the Cowboys into settling for a 40-yard field goal that missed.

Dallas rallied for touchdowns on their next two consecutive possessions and suddenly the Jets’ heroic story seemed in jeopardy. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott ran in for a 4-yard touchdown with 47 seconds left in the game, narrowing the score to 24-22. But the Jets’ defense came up with what may have been its biggest stop of the season on the ensuing 2-point conversion attempt.

Safety Jamal Adams blitzed Prescott, and the quarterback’s attempt to find tight end Jason Witten fell to the ground. Adams said they practiced that blitz in practice on Friday, knowing that they might need to run it against the Cowboys.

“It was a beautiful sight to see,” he said. “Usually we panic and guys are not sure about what’s going on or if we’re going to stop it. Everybody believed, and we made it happened.”

Darnold, who returned to practice in Week 4 but was held out of the Jets’ loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, wore customized pads with a section that wrapped around his stomach to protect his enlarged spleen. The offensive line gave up 10 sacks in the previous week, and there was an increased concern for Darnold’s safety on Sunday. He was sacked only twice against the Cowboys and said it didn’t affect him.

Next up the Jets’ have a Monday Night Football matchup against the Patriots, a tough test to see if this new-look Jets can hold up.



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