JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Sam Darnold saw plenty of ghosts on Sunday. The Jaguars’ mascot wore a white sheet. Some fans donned them as well, or held up ghost cut-ups.
A plane flying over the Jaguars’ stadium before the game had a banner that read “Gardner Minshew Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts.” Late in the game, the theme from “Ghostbusters” blared.
All of this was expected after Darnold said “I’m seeing ghosts” during last Monday’s horrific loss to the Patriots. It will continue as long as Darnold and the Jets continue to show no improvement or resistance.
Adam Gase’s team put forth another mistake-filled performance. Darnold threw three interceptions and was sacked eight times in a 29-15 loss to Jacksonville that dropped the Jets to 1-6.
“We hurt ourselves,” Gase said. “We didn’t do really anything we talked about in all three phases. We were poor, made a lot of mistakes.”
Darnold and the offensive line weren’t the only culprits. The defense also underperformed, giving up too many big plays and third-down conversions to the Jaguars (4-4).
“It has to come a point in time where enough is enough,” safety Jamal Adams said.
Darnold’s mistakes have become cause for concern. In the last two games, he’s been picked off seven times and lost one fumble. He threw two picks in the fourth quarter Sunday.
“Two of my worst games ever,” the second-year quarterback said.
As the “Ghostbusters” song was playing, the Jaguars’ video board showed all three of Darnold’s interceptions. He was aware of everything happening, but he said it didn’t bother him.
“It didn’t affect me,” he said. “It’s a silly thing for social media and fans to try and use against me. I was just playing bad because I did. I wasn’t executing out there. I wasn’t throwing balls where they needed to be. It wasn’t about that, though.”
Darnold finished 21-for-30 for 218 yards and two touchdowns, both to tight end Ryan Griffin.
Le’Veon Bell rushed for 23 yards on nine carries and caught three passes for 12 yards.
Minshew had a terrific game. The rookie was 22-for-34 for 279 yards and three touchdowns. One was a 70-yard pass to Chris Conley after Darnold’s first pick.
“We’re 1-6, man,” an extremely dejected Adams said. “I can’t even count how many times . . . It’s been three years, man. I’m frustrated, man. I just want to win.”
The Jets trailed 22-7 in the fourth quarter but made it a one-possession game about two minutes in when Darnold hit Griffin with a 3-yard TD pass and found the tight end again with the two-point conversion pass.
The defense came up with a big third-down stop on the next series, but Darnold gave the ball back to Jacksonville when he overthrew Vyncint Smith and was intercepted by A.J. Bouye.
“I got to play better,” said Darnold, who suffered a sprained left thumb but said it didn’t affect his throwing. “I just got to play better.”
Minshew again turned the turnover into a TD. He scrambled on third-and-goal from the 8 and found D.J. Chark with just over four minutes left.
Darnold got off to a great start, connecting on all seven of his passes on the Jets’ first drive of the game. He threw for 88 yards in the series — two more than he had all game against New England.
The 93-yard drive ended with Griffin scoring on a 24-yard catch-and-run that gave the Jets a 7-6 lead. It was the Jets’ first opening-drive touchdown since 2017, a stretch of 31 games.
But the offense sputtered from there, and the defense was roughed up right from the beginning.
The Jaguars received the ball to start the game and needed only four plays to score as Minshew hit Keelan Cole with a 6-yard touchdown pass. The big play was Leonard Fournette’s 66-yard run on second down.
The Jets gave up a number of big plays in the first half. After Darnold’s first pick, it took only two plays for the Jaguars to get in the end zone. Minshew hit a wide-open Conley for a 70-yard catch-and-run TD to make it 13-7.
“Nobody is pulling us out of this,” said Gase, who will face his old team next Sunday in Miami. “We have to do it. No one else is coming to save us.”