Let’s talk about what happened to get the Jets back into the win column.
Sam Darnold: I think Darnold’s progress is about the only thing making this team worth watching at this point. The biggest question surrounding the team on the field is whether Darnold can finish his rookie season strong.
His return to the lineup was almost short-lived as he left the game early on after taking a hit on a scramble. After a brief Josh McCown cameo, Sam came back into the lineup. His stat line was pedestrian at 16 for 24 with 170 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception.
That interception was a true rookie moment as he threw a duck against his body moving near the sideline when he would have been better served throwing it away.
Still, this was an impressive game for Darnold and a milestone start because of the timely plays he made. The Jets drew even in the fourth quarter on a spectacular touchdown when Darnold was flushed right by pressure and then came back left to find Robby Anderson for a score. Then with the game on the line on the game’s final drive, Darnold found a covered Anderson again with a perfect pass down the left sideline. He would have had a game-winning touchdown had Anderson later been able to drag his second foot on an accurate end zone pass, but the Jets scored later.
What we got was a first road comeback win against a quality defense. That’s about as good as you could hope for at this point of the season.
Robby Anderson: He didn’t really win against the coverage on that big pass from Darnold on the final drive, and he didn’t drag his second foot on that would be game-winning touchdown. Still, he did come down with the first critical catch and led the Jets with 4 catches for 74 yards. He also didn’t quit with Darnold scrambling around on that game-tying touchdown.
Elijah McGuire: I thought he ran pretty tough on a day where his blocking wasn’t that great. He also scored the game-winning touchdown on a play where his line didn’t get a great push. He just waited for the right hole to open and ran through it.
Trumaine Johnson: It’s about time he did something. Johnson recorded a pair of interceptions in this game. The first was something of a gift as Josh Allen made a poor decision reminiscent of Darnold’s interception. The second iced the game as Johnson played effective coverage.
Neville Hewitt: I thought he was pretty effective in place of Darron Lee, recording 7 tackles and half a sack.
Leonard Williams: He was a constant presence in the backfield and had at least 3 hits of Allen that I counted. Williams was flagged for a big roughing the passer penalty, but I thought it was a bad call.
Henry Anderson: He blocked a field goal attempt and was effective up front with 4 tackles.
Andre Roberts: We can look past the fumble because the Jets won. He continued to make explosive plays in the return game.
Kevin Pierre-Louis: He made a big play for a second straight week, forcing a fumble.
Frankie Luvu: He had the pressure that helped force Allen’s interception.
Todd Bowles: Look, everybody would be complaining had he kicked the field goal and sent the game to overtime so let’s give him credit for making the right call and going for the win.
I know there were some bad performances in this game, but this season has been so lacking in positive moments that we can ignore them for one day. It doesn’t save 2018. It shouldn’t change anybody’s job status. But the Jets are back in the win column for just the fourth time this year, and their young quarterback had a milestone game.