Sam Darnold and the Jets were not ready for their prime-time matchup with the Patriots.
Darnold looked rattled from the first time he touched the ball, and he admitted he was. The second-year quarterback was miked for the ESPN broadcast and was caught on the sideline saying he was “seeing ghosts.”
That’s never something you want to hear from your quarterback. Certainly not against the reigning Super Bowl champs and the NFL’s best defense.
Darnold had the worst night of his career on Monday night, throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble in a 33-0 loss to the Patriots at MetLife Stadium.
“I just got to see the field better, that’s what that means,” Darnold said of his “ghosts” comment. “It was a rough night out there. I got to be better and learn from my mistakes.”
Said Adam Gase, “He probably was feeling guys were coming free when they might not have been.”
The Patriots (7-0), who took a 24-0 halftime lead, have outscored opponents 223-48 this season. The Jets (1-5) had six turnovers and no answers for New England’s blitz.
“We didn’t come to play. Simple as that,” Jamal Adams said. “To me, it’s embarrassing.”
The Jets came into this game confident, believing that they had turned the corner with Darnold coming off a victory over the Cowboys last week and with inside linebacker C.J. Mosley playing his first game in more than a month.
They talked about this being a must-win and a playoff-type game. Le’Veon Bell said they had a chance “to shock the world.” They did open some eyes, but only because their offensive woes this season hit a new low.
“That was brutal,” Gase said. “We couldn’t do anything right.”
Darnold and the offense regressed. In addition to his five turnovers, the Jets yielded a safety when Ryan Kalil’s snap sailed over the quarterback’s head and into the end zone. Darnold batted it out of bounds.
Darnold went 11-for-32 for 86 yards and had a passer rating of 3.6. “I definitely think I was pressing too hard, trying to get a 24- point score on one play,” he said. “I have to play the game one play at a time and play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”
He was a totally different quarterback from a week ago in the victory over the Cowboys, when he led four scoring drives in his first game back after missing three games with mononucleosis. On Monday night, he turned over the ball on three of the Jets’ first four possessions.
Tom Brady was 31-for-45 for 249 yards and a touchdown. Sony Michel scored three TDs.
Mosley didn’t have the impact the Jets were hoping for against New England. The Jets’ defense wasn’t as dismal as the offense, but the Patriots scored three touchdowns and a field goal in the first 20:42 of the game.
After the Patriots scored on Michel’s 3-yard run on the first drive, a penalty on the ensuing kickoff pinned the Jets deep in their territory. Darnold was under pressure on the second play, got rid of it quickly and was picked off by Devin McCourty. The Patriots took over at the Jets’ 12 and got a field goal.
“That first pick, it wasn’t a good feeling,” Darnold said. “Right there, that’s the one I’d like to have back. If I don’t throw it, it’s a different game.”
The Jets’ next offensive series was a three-and-out, and Brady threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Dorsett that put the Jets in a 17-0 hole with nine seconds left in the first quarter.
The Jets recorded their first first down early in the second quarter on Le’Veon Bell’s 19-yard run, his longest of the season. On the next play, Darnold was sacked by John Simon and lost the ball. Kyle Van Noy recovered it in Jets territory and the Patriots turned it into a 1-yard touchdown run by Michel.
The Jets moved the ball on their next series, with the help of three New England penalties for 39 yards. But on third-and-10 from the Patriots’ 19, Darnold made another bad read, overthrowing Demaryius Thomas and getting intercepted at the 1 by Duron Harmon.
Early in the second half, Darnold made another bad throw under pressure with McCourty charging untouched from the left side. Darnold’s pass intended for Robby Anderson was intercepted by Stephon Gilmore.
The Jets started their next series at their 3, and a bad snap by Kalil, who hurt his elbow earlier in the game, resulted in a safety.
On the next series, another pass intended for Thomas was intercepted by Terrence Brooks in the end zone.
“Just one bad play after another,” Gase said. “We couldn’t get out of our own way.”