Jet X commemorates the end of the Sam Darnold era by looking back on the 14 best plays of his New York Jets career.
Jet X bids farewell to Sam Darnold by looking back on his finest 14 moments as the New York Jets quarterback. For a kid who couldn’t nail down the consistency part of his game, while dealing with a lot over his first three professional seasons, Darnold put up several mind-boggling plays.
9/10/18: The Lion Sling
An internet already fueled by the idea that a Jets mistake is the funniest thing in the world went into overdrive after Darnold’s first regular-season pass resulted in an interception return for a touchdown at the hands of Quandre Diggs and the Detroit Lions.
Darnold, however, recovered well enough to play a sizable part in the Jets’ eventual 48-17 triumph. On their third drive, the Jets faced a 7-yard third down and a touchdown deficit in Detroit territory.
Some fancy footwork from Darnold led to him finding Quincy Enunwa for a crucial eight-yard gain that kept the drive alive. One play later, Isaiah Crowell scored from six yards out to give the tie the ball game.
9/10/18: The Beginning of the Blue-tiful Friendship
Darnold’s move to Charlotte will reunite him with an old friend in Robby Anderson, a rare source of offensive firepower during their star-crossed time together in New York.
Their first aerial get-together, coming in the aforementioned visit to the Motor City, proved lucrative, as Darnold found Anderson in stride for a 41-yard score that gave the Jets a two-possession lead.
12/9/18: Just Joshin’
After missing three games with an injury, Darnold set off on a strong ending to his rookie season, posting a 99.1 passer rating over his final four games. The first of that epic quarter was his first showdown with Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills, stealing a 27-23 decision at New Era Field.
This come-from-behind effort saw Darnold erase a two-possession lead, first tying the game on a third-down touchdown pass to Anderson before Elijah McGuire won it on a rushing score.
12/15/18: Houston Has a Problem
In the following week, Darnold went head-to-head with Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans.
His most notable toss was a 13-yard scoring hook-up with Andre Roberts, helping the Pro Bowl return specialist earn a rare aerial tally.
12/23/18: In Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood
Darnold’s most prolific game in a Jets uniform was by far a Festivus miracle against Aaron Rodgers the Green Bay Packers in a game that went back and forth in an overtime thriller. One could easily forget that both teams had long been eliminated, as Darnold put up a career-best 341 yards and 128.4 passer rating.
His play of the day was a 33-yard scoring toss to Robby Anderson in the first half, one that signaled to the Packers that they would have a challenge on their hands.
Welcome back, Le'Veon Bell. 9-yard TD pass from Sam Darnold.
His first TD since January 14, 2018pic.twitter.com/XQGdUB8sym
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) September 8, 2019
9/8/19: Buffalo Bell
Darnold’s New York tenure will always be defined by the questions of “what if” and “what might’ve been.” The first days of the Le’Veon Bell/Adam Gase era will likely face a majority of those quandaries, especially because things started off so promising.
In their third quarter of collaboration, Darnold welcomed Bell to New York in the most profitable of fashions, a nine-yard scoring toss that gave the Jets a two-possession lead in their opening game against Buffalo.
Alas for the Jets, things went downhill from there and never truly peaked again.
10/13/19: Bye, Mr. Anderson, Bye
Darnold’s first game back from his infamous bout with mononucleosis was a MetLife Stadium tilt against the Dallas Cowboys. Forced into extra protection in his return, the extra padding didn’t stop Darnold from hooking up with Anderson on a 92-yard score that gave the Jets a two-possession lead.
Darnold would later find Ryan Griffin for another score just before halftime in what became a 24-22 Jets victory, their first of the 2019 season.
Go to sleep tonight knowing that your QB made one of the best throws in NFL history.
Sam Darnold a freak of nature. Yes, he has to understand his limits, but this is what makes him a potential top 5 QB.
Feel in the pocket, throwing off platform, arm talent 😍🔥 pic.twitter.com/Q42xesJuS3
— Luke Grant (@LukeGrant7) November 11, 2019
Darnold was able to briefly stick some form of regret in New York Giants fans during the teams’ quadrennial regular-season matchup in East Rutherford.
A first-quarter, second-down strike to Anderson saw Darold withstand a blitz from Markus Golden and earn a crucial gain that contributed to a Jets scoring drive.
11/17/19: Capital Offense
An interconference showdown with Washington served as Darnold’s first, and thus far only, four-touchdown game in a 34-17 triumph. The last was a 29-yard strike to Jamison Crowder in the early stages of the fourth quarter.
12/12/19: They Have Wonderful Clam Crowder
Darnold’s passing yardage and scoring throws were each good for eighth all-time in Jets history. But the yardage he hypothetically earned through several scrambles might’ve been long enough to rival Curtis Martin.
Another rollout score, punctuated by a pitch-perfect pass to Crowder, provided solace in a nationally televised 42-21 defeat in Baltimore.
9/20/20: Gold Rush
There was little to celebrate in the Jets’ 31-13 defeat at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers last September. But Darnold salvaged what we could out of the defeat with a SportsCenter Top 10-worthy toss in the penultimate minute.
Dodging the San Francisco rush and rolling out to his left, Darnold was able to lead Braxton Berrios into a 30-yard score to wrap things up.
9/27/20: Indianapolis Bolts
Further mobile Darnold antics emerged during yet another blowout loss in Indianapolis the week after. Another run to daylight—this time dodging two Colts defenders—allowed Darnold to briefly make Colts fans jealous after sending over the pick that led to the Jets taking him.
Berrios was again on the receiving end of this escape, this one producing a 16-yard score. Alas, it accounted for the Jets’ only tallies of the game, as they were on the wrong end of a 36-7 shellacking.
We’ve seen enough examples of Darnold’s scrambling abilities leading to tosses on this list. He had a far more lucrative mobile adventure during the Jets’ most recent Thursday night excursion against Denver.
Darnold channeled his inner Randal Cunningham and broke loose for a 46-yard scoring opening to open points for the evening. To date, it’s the longest rush of his NFL career.
Again, Sam Darnold has pressure right in his face and he stands and delivers a rocket down the middle of the field, up and over one of the best CBs in the game pic.twitter.com/JBrXaumoTt
— Edgar Salmingo, Jr. ✌️ (@PanthersAnalyst) April 5, 2021
11/29/20: Dish Against the Fish
Fate has denied us a future where Sam Darnold is throwing passes to Denzel Mims—unless, of course, Mims is likewise dealt to Carolina.
One of their finest connections came in Miami’s visit to MetLife when a first quarter hookup saw Darnold connect with the rookie Mims despite strong coverage from Xavien Howard.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags