Robby Anderson was waiting for a day like this, waiting for a day when he could put his sure hands and big-play speed to work and make an extra-large impact for the Jets.
Sam Darnold did hit the third-year receiver for a 41-yard touchdown in the season-opening win in Detroit, but Anderson had made only seven other catches for 67 yards and scored no other TDs in the first four games, the last three of which ended in losses.
The Jets, though, finally stopped their skid Sunday, beating the Broncos, 34-16, at MetLife Stadium, and Anderson was back to being his difference-making self. Darnold connected with him three times for 123 yards, an average of 41 yards per catch. Two of those went for big-play touchdowns of 76 and 35 yards.
“More importantly, we won,” Anderson said. “That’s what I’ve been waiting for, more than anything. But definitely to contribute and have something to do with us winning feels good . . .
“I think more so it was frustrating because we were losing. I think everybody knows throughout the league and everybody on my team, everybody knows what I can do. It’s just things weren’t clicking how we wanted to, game plans and things like that.”
Anderson flashed what he could do as an undrafted rookie out of Temple, averaging 14.0 yards on 42 catches. Then he averaged 14.9 yards on 63 catches last season, good for 941 yards and seven touchdowns.
Enter Darnold into the picture. The third overall pick in the draft is learning on the job and learning his receivers. He has worked overtime with Anderson, trying to develop chemistry in practice.
“Working on go [routes] and short and intermediate routes, all of it,” Darnold said. “We’ve just got to keep practicing and keep getting the timing down.”
It’s starting to come.
“I’m starting to feel the rhythm of Robby’s timing and how fast he gets downfield,” Darnold said. “It’s awesome.”
His speed was on display for all to see in the second quarter. It was a 7-7 game when Anderson went deep, speeding past cornerback Bradley Roby and hauling in the career-best 76-yard score.
“It was fun,” Anderson said. “It felt good. That’s what we play the game for, to make big plays, score touchdowns and win.”
Coach Todd Bowles enjoyed the view, saying, “Robby is a great deep-ball guy and Sam is developing a lot of trust in him. It’s good to see it happen.”
Anderson celebrated with a Lambeau Leap — MetLife Leap, in this case.
“I’ve been wanting to jump in the crowd here, but the walls are so high, so it was a little hard for me to do what I wanted to do,” Anderson said. “It was a little difficult.”
Then he beat Roby again. Darnold threw a perfect 35-yard strike to Anderson in the end zone with 1:13 left until halftime. Anderson kept running into the tunnel before finally reemerging, and the Jets owned a 21-10 advantage.
Darnold threw for 198 yards and three scores and Isaiah Crowell rushed for a franchise-record 219 yards, with Bilal Powell adding 99 more.
“Me making [plays] down the field makes it easier for the running backs, and them busting big runs makes it easier for me,” Anderson said. “It’s hard to stop.”
Robby Anderson had been a non-factor in the Jets’ first four games. That all changed on Sunday:
First 4 Games Sunday
8 Receptions 3
108 Total yards 123
13.5 Avg. yards 41..0
41 Long gain 76
1 Touchdowns 2