Sam Darnold showed he could bounce back from an awful game and from being slammed down on the hard MetLife Stadium turf. But Darnold couldn’t lead the Jets to their first win of the season.
The offense was a red-zone mess and the defense was an undisciplined disaster as the Jets lost the battle of the winless teams, falling 37-28 to the Denver Broncos on Thursday night.
The Jets are 0-4 for the second-straight year under Adam Gase, whose job security has been a topic this week. It was widely believed that Gase wouldn’t be fully evaluated until the Jets were at or close to full strength. The NFL Network reported as much.
But that was another brutal loss against a team that is more banged up than the Jets and was starting its third-string quarterback.
"We’re working to get this thing right," Gase said. "I’m not happy about this. I know we can play way better than this. We cannot beat ourselves, doing the things we’re doing."
It’s the same things. The Jets’ offense drove into the red zone four times and settled for field goals each time. Sam Ficken was 5-for-5 on field goals overall.
Gregg Williams’ defense applied no pressure on Brett Rypien. He wasn’t sacked once. Even worse, the Jets were called for four personal fouls in the first half, and six altogether.
The last one was facemask on Quinnen Williams on a sack on third down about five minutes left in the game and the Jets up one. If they get off the field there, they might have won.
"It’s ridiculous," Gase said of all the penalties. "This is not the way we’re going to play."
"It’s definitely frustrating to come out here and lose another one," receiver Jamison Crowder said. "We had so many penalties, and dumb penalties, and shot ourselves in the foot the whole night."
Darnold, who threw three interceptions in Sunday’s loss at Indianapolis, was 23-for-42 for 230 yards Thursday with no touchdowns and no picks. He also had 84 yards rushing, including a ridiculous 46-yard touchdown run on the Jets’ first series for their only offensive touchdown of the game and first lead of 2020.
It didn’t look like Darnold was going to finish the game after he sacked by linebacker Alexander Johnson and driven hard on his right shoulder in the first quarter. Darnold stayed in the game for one play, handed it off to La’Mical Perine, and then waved to the sideline.
Darnold eventually jogged to the locker room with his right arm hanging. Joe Flacco, active for the first time this season, entered and played parts of two series. Darnold returned in the second quarter, and on his first snap, he was sacked again.
In all, Darnold was sacked six times by a defense that had only four sacks before this game.
"I wasn’t too worried," Darnold said. "Once they told me they felt like I could go out there again, that’s when I started to get excited. I got back out there."
Gase classified it as a sprain, and said he would know more on Friday.
Rypien actually picked Williams’ defense apart. He finished 19-for-31 for 242 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Denver picked on cornerback Pierre Desir, who was beat on two touchdowns. Melvin Gordon ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns.
Despite all Jets’ issues, they intercepted Rypien on back-to-back series in the fourth quarter, one that Desir returned for a touchdown. They erased a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit and took a 28-27 lead on a Ficken 36-yard field goal with 6:23 left.
But they crumbled on both sides of the ball.
On the ensuing series, the Jets had Rypien stopped on third down. Williams’ facemask gave Denver a new set of downs. On the next third down, Rypien hit Patrick for a 31-yard gain to the Jets’ 22.
The Broncos took the lead 30-28 on Brandon McManus ‘53-yard field goal with 3:08 left.
Darnold had a chance to play hero. The Jets took over at their own 25 and drove to midfield. On third-and-3, Darnold was nearly picked off. Then on fourth down, Darnold scrambled but couldn’t get away from Bradley Chubb. He was sacked for a 7-yard loss.
"I did everything I could," a dejected Darnold said. "Fourth down, game on the line."
Denver took over and the Jets couldn’t wrap up Gordon. He bounced back on first down for a 43-yard touchdown run. Ball game.
"We got to win games, man," Darnold said. "It’s better than getting blown out. But we got to win that game."