Darnold shakes off pick-6, guides Jets past Lions

Marcus Newton
September 11, 2018

Darnold was drafted with the third overall pick this year, and he earned the start in the season opener for the Jets. Or as giddy as Bowles gets. Everything the Jets have done since the end of last season has indicated that ownership and the front office understands the future is what's important.

He trusted the Jets' running game and pass protection to set him up well.

Sam Darnold may be a rookie, and a turnover or two may be inevitable in his first NFL start - against a Matt Patricia defense and on a national stage, no less. He was poised, efficient and made enough throws to make believers out of even the biggest Jets skeptics. On a 3rd and 2, the rookie signal caller launched a 41-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson for his first career touchdown. "It seemed like we were in his head as a defense". Did ANYONE even dream of this happening?

The New York Jets routed the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Monday night, intercepting Matthew Stafford four times. It was the Jets' first defensive touchdown since 2013. The defense held Stafford to a three-and-out on his first drive, and the Jets' Andre Roberts returned the punt 43 yards, giving the ball back to Darnold on Detroit's 32-yard line. He was mercifully taken out of the game midway through the fourth quarter and replaced by Matt Cassel with Detroit down 31. Those 31 points went unanswered by the Lions after Detroit tied the game at 17.

But the Jets answered in resounding fashion.

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Darnold became the third quarterback in National Football League history to begin his career with a pick-six on his first pass attempt, joining Brett Favre and Jameis Winston, when his throw across the field intended for Bilal Powell was picked off by Quandre Diggs and returned 37 yards to give Detroit a 7-0 lead.

Then Darnold threw the pick-six, and that feeling Jets fans know all too well, that of the other shoe dropping, felt like it was happening quickly, too. It was the first of two interceptions by Lee. Enunwa scored on a catch-and-run TD, and then Lee delivered his pick-six, and then Roberts turned in a 78-yard punt return TD-and suddenly the Jets felt about this game how they feel about Darnold: pretty darn sure.

Darnold joined Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston (2015) and Brett Favre (1991) as quarterbacks who had their first pass intercepted and returned for a score.

Linebacker Darron Lee had two of New York's interceptions, including one he ran back 36 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. By the top of the second quarter, he'd more than erased the deficit he'd created in the game's first 20 seconds.

But the game could not have gotten off to a worse start for Darnold.

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