QB Sam Darnold returned on Sunday and instantly made the struggling Jets look like a real NFL team. The anemic offense, rated last in the league before this game, gained 382 yards against the Dallas Cowboys, propelling the Gang Green to a 24-22 win. Darnold was 23 of 32, 338 yards, 2 TD and 1 INT, 113.8 QB rating.
The Jets jumped to a 21-3 lead late in the second quarter after Darnold connected with WR Robby Anderson and TE Ryan Griffin on two touchdown passes in a 3-minute span. It wasn’t going to be easy though, it never is when it comes to the Jets. The Cowboys responded with 13 unanswered points, cutting the Gang Green’s lead to only five points in the fourth quarter.
Darnold and the Jets answered with a 57-yard drive that got stalled at the Cowboys 20-yard line. PK Sam Ficken converted the field goal attempt, extending the Jets’ lead to eight points. There was still more than three minutes left to play and that’s when many of us who’d been watching this team long enough were expecting another Same Old Jets moment. Fortunately, this time it had a different ending. The Jets did allow a touchdown but a perfectly timed blitz stopped the ensuing 2-point conversion attempt.
Darnold arguably played one of the best games of his short NFL career. He looked almost perfect, with the exception of the pass that was intercepted. He finished just three yards shy of his single game passing record and the second quarter touchdown pass to Anderson was his longest in the NFL. His impressive pocked awareness and ability to evade the rush made the struggling Jets offensive line look like a decent unit. Although they still could not open any running lanes, as the running game continued to underperform, averaging just 2.8 yards per rushing attempt. The Jets converted only 2 of 10 third downs, definitely another area where the team was under par.
The Cowboys entered the game with the best offense in the league. The Gang Green’s defense managed to keep them out of the end zone until the fourth quarter. They also limited Ezekiel Elliott to just 3.8 yards per carry and kept Dallas under 400 yards total. Penalties, however, continued to be a big problem. The defense committed three pass interference penalties on the last Cowboys scoring drive, although at least one of them was quite questionable.
The Monday Night meeting with the Patriots is next. The Jets lost last seven games against the Pats, including one earlier this season, 14-30.