Sam Darnold started and won a game! Early in the season, I had a lot of fun digging through the record books to see how some of the things Sam was doing stacked up historically. It was a sad time when he went out of the lineup and stripped me of that hobby. He’s back though, and he’s back victoriously! Here are some of the most interesting positive Darnold tidbits I’ve dug up since his comeback win in Buffalo.
*- None of these stats are supposed to tell you that Sam Darnold is going to be the next Joe Montana or that he is a guaranteed superstar who is dominating the league. They’re just interesting records and stats for you to enjoy!
Darnold is the youngest quarterback in NFL history to lead a game-winning drive.
Now, keep in mind that Darnold was the youngest Week 1 starter in NFL history. Each of Sam’s 10 starts this year make up 10 of the top 15 youngest extended quarterback appearances in the Super Bowl era (min. 20 passes), so he’s going to be the youngest ever to do almost anything that he does this year.
Of the 26 youngest QB appearances (min. 20 passes) in the Super Bowl era, only 4 ended up with wins. One player was responsible for all of them:
The Bills entered this Sunday’s game ranked 3rd in the league in overall defense DVOA.
It’s very rare for a rookie to beat a defense that good on the road. It’s only happened seven times over the past seven seasons. Assuming the Bills remain in the top ten through the end of this season, here are the rookies since 2012 who have beaten a top ten DVOA defense (based on their end of season ranking) on the road.
Darnold (2018 @ Buffalo)
Josh Allen (2018 @ Minnesota)
Mitch Trubisky (2017 @ Baltimore)
Patrick Mahomes (2017 @ Denver)
Dak Prescott (2016 @ Minnesota)
Russell Wilson (2012 @ Chicago)
Ryan Tannehill (2012 @ Cincinnati)
If you want to narrow the criteria even further, Mahomes, Wilson, and Tannehill were the only others in that span to pick up that type of win while throwing at least 25 passes.
Entering Sunday, the Bills were allowing the fourth-lowest opposing quarterback rating in the league at home (76.3) since the start of 2017. Only five quarterbacks had posted even just an 80.0+ rating against them in Orchard Park, tied for the lowest total allowed in the league.
Just four of those five were able to put up an 80.0+ rating in Western New York and win the game - Tom Brady (2x), Drew Brees, and Philip Rivers. Now, you can add Sam Darnold to that club.
The Bills have historically done a very good job against young quarterbacks while playing at home. Over their history, they’ve faced a total of 35 quarterbacks aged 23 or younger. Only five of them completed at least two-thirds (66.7%) of their passes, and only three did that while also winning the game: Dan Marino (1984), Drew Bledsoe (1994), and Sam Darnold.
Via ESPN Stats & Information, Darnold ran 46.8 yards before his touchdown pass to Robby Anderson, the most yards run by a quarterback on a completed pass over the last two seasons.
In the Super Bowl era, 21-year old QBs have thrown 20+ passes in 119 games.
Only 12 of those were wins in which the quarterback’s offense scored 3+ touchdowns.
Sam Darnold has a third of those, with 4, and has already done it twice as many times as any other 21-year old. Teddy Bridgewater and Jameis Winston are the only others to do it even twice.
Here are the most recent rookie QBs to win on the road in sub-35 degree temperatures.
Darnold (@ Buffalo)
Josh Rosen (@ Green Bay)
Patrick Mahomes (@ Denver)
Mitch Trubisky (@ Cincinnati)
Andrew Luck (@ Kansas City)
Darnold and Mahomes were the only ones to do it against a top-half defense, according to DVOA.
I love to look for uncanny parallels that ultimately don’t mean anything but are pretty interesting nonetheless. Here’s a good one:
Darnold posted a 7.08 yards per attempt average in his first visit to Buffalo.
Joe Namath posted a 7.18.
There you have it! A fresh batch of unbridled franchise quarterback enthusiasm! If you already were hyped about Darnold’s performance, hopefully this made you feel even better! If you’ve been wavering between whether or not you should have enjoyed that victory, then this should help you appreciate it!
What was your favorite random stat in this article?
This poll is closed
Youngest QB to lead a game winning drive
Sam owning the only 4 wins among the youngest 26 starting QBs
Rookie QB beating a top-10 defense on the road
Joining Brady, Brees, and Rivers beating the 2017-18 Bills in Buffalo with an 80+ QB rating
Joining Marino and Bledsoe beating the Bills in Buffalo with a 67%+ completion rate at 23 or younger
Twice as many 3+ TD victories at 21 than anybody else in history
Uncanny Y/A parallel with Broadway Joe
46.8 yards run on the TD pass