Darnold shakes off woes to lead Jets past Lions in crushing fashion
The New York Jets were almost unrecognisable in their NFL opener as rookie Sam Darnold recovered from a bad start to lead his team to a crushing 48-17 win over the Detroit Lions.
For a team that went 5-11 in each of their last two seasons – finishing at the very bottom of the AFC East – the Jets sensationally blitzed the Lions on Monday.
In a turn of events that saw Darnold throw a pick-six on his first snap to the debutant quarterback before leading his team to a 31-point third quarter, the numbers certainly speak for themselves. But there is still much more to say.
Darnold shakes off rookie woes
The 21-year-old stepped onto the biggest stage of his career with a ton of hype.
He became the first rookie starter on Monday Night Football. He was the youngest quarterback since 1950 to start a season opener. Will he be the new face of the Jets? What can the third overall pick out of USC bring to the NFL?
Well, the answers to those questions appeared spoiled when Darnold threw a pick-three after taking his first snap as the leader of the Jets.
On the first play of the game...— NFL (@NFL) September 10, 2018
Quandre Diggs PICK-6! #NYJvsDET#OnePride
: ESPN pic.twitter.com/VMaSDvdZXn
Call it rookie woes or first-game jitters, but whatever it was, Darnold shook all of it off to execute a monumental second-half performance.
After the pick-six, Darnold completed 16 of his 20 passes for 198 yards, two touchdowns as his passer rating reached 116.8.
Turnovers, turnovers and more turnovers
Quandre Diggs' opening pick-six was just the beginning.
Turnovers, which first plagued Darnold, turned out to favour the Jets, as their defense picked off Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford a total of four times. However, it did not stop there.
.@TheAdamsEra's first career INT! #JETS— NFL (@NFL) September 11, 2018
: ESPN pic.twitter.com/6Ks2eDuty7
The Jets' defensive unit continued to dominate when the Lions benched Stafford and sent in Matt Cassel in the fourth quarter, capping off their performance with second-year safety Jamal Adams' first career pick. They finished the game with six total takeaways — five interceptions and one fumble recovery.
Patricia didn't bring the science
Lions head coach Matt Patricia is smart. There is no doubt about that, but unfortunately the engineer could not put together a game plan to stop the streaking Jets.
If he was not a coach, he reportedly would be a rocket scientist. Patricia first studied at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, then Amherst College and Syracuse University. An engineer-turned-coach should be able to mastermind a comeback and he problem solved enough to help get the Lions to a 17-17 tie in the third quarter.
Patricia's coaching debut was quickly soiled by the Jets, who put up 31 points in the third quarter, and was left shaking his head going into the final frame.
The 43-year-old became the first coach since the Oakland Raiders' Tom Cable in October 2008 to lose by 31 or more points in his head coaching debut.