It started off rocky but rookie quarterback Sam Darnold kicked off the New York Jets season in epic fashion.
Aside from the first play from scrimmage, everything went right for the New York Jets in their Week 1 pounding of the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Monday Night Football. The sideline was filled with smiles from ear to ear, and Jets fans that made the trip out to Detroit took over the stadium late in the fourth quarter, embracing in a J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets chant that was heard loud and clear on national television.
Making his first career start under the bright night lights, rookie Sam Darnold bounced back brilliantly from his pick-six to open the game by completing 16 of his final 20 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns. It was an effort that had Jets fans feeling like it was Christmas morning, New Year’s Eve, and all their other favorite holidays wrapped into one magical night.
The Jets defense put on a dominant show as well, picking off Lions QB’s Matthew Stafford and Matt Cassell five times. Two of those five picks came from linebacker Darron Lee who took one back for a pick-six in the third quarter to give Gang Green a 31-17 lead. The Jets hope this is a sign of things to come for the former first-round pick, whose in dire need of a breakout season after going through his fair share struggles the past two years.
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The Jets special teams even got in on the fun scoring their first touchdown since 2012 when newcomer Andre Roberts took one 79 yards to the house.
Roberts also had a 43-yard punt return earlier in the game that set up the Jets first touchdown. This was certainly an encouraging effort from a unit that has ranked near the bottom of the league the last several years and hopes that the addition of Roberts to the return game can help improve their production.
Leading by just seven at halftime, the Lions took the second half kick off and marched right down the field on four plays to tie the game at 17 with Golden Tate taking a slant pass to the end zone for 24 yards.
That’s when the Jets absolutely took over, scoring the final 31 points of the game and cruising to a 1-0 start. The Jets ran the ball down the Lions throat all game to the tune of 169 yards while averaging 4.7 a carry. Another offseason addition, Isaiah Crowell led the charge with 10 carries for 102 yards and two scores, his final one being a 62-yard dash that left a slew of Lion players facedown on the turf.
Veteran Bilal Powell also turned in a solid effort rushing for 62 yards on 12 touches, while Quincy Enunwa and Terrelle Pryor lead the attack through the air. Enunwa was especially impressive in his return to action after being sidelined last season due to a neck injury he sustained in 2017. The fifth-year pro caught 6 passes for 63 yards and put the Jets ahead for good in the third quarter when he dragged three defenders with him on his back into the end zone for a 21-yard score.
However, the most electrifying play of the night for the Jets offense came right before halftime when Darnold threw his first NFL touchdown pass on a pretty deep ball into tight coverage to Robby Anderson who hauled it in over Tavon Wilson. The Jets hope that Anderson can keep himself out of trouble off the field cause he once again showed how explosive his blazing speed can be to their aerial attack.
Darnold, the youngest quarterback to start a season since the merger 52 years ago, certainly showed Jets fans the poise, command, and pure talent that they have been lacking at the games most important position for so long. Its still early, but the Sam Darnold era couldn’t have gotten off to a better start and Jets fans everywhere have to be thrilled with what they saw and what awaits in the future.