Darnold shakes off pick-6, guides Jets past Lions


Unfortunately for Em and the Lions though, the game didn't go too well as the Sam Darnold-led Jets crushed Detroit 48-17, giving their new head coach Matt Patricia plenty of things to work on ahead of next week's game against the 49ers.

But what happened from there was distinctly non-Jets-like. Quandre Diggs intercepted his ill-advised lob down the left sideline on the first play from scrimmage and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown 20 seconds into the game. Since the start of training camp in late July, Shepherd has worked with the first-team Jets defence. NY forced a three-and-out and Roberts returned a punt 78 yards down the left sideline to make it 38-17 with 6:57 remaining in the third quarter. (Of course, the Lions ended up making the NFC title game that season). But by halftime, the Jets were up 17-10, and Darnold's debut was looking a lot better. The Lions defense surrendered a number of big plays throughout the game, including touchdown passes of 41 and 21 yards.

But the Jets answered in resounding fashion. It was the first of two interceptions by Lee.

Enunwa scored on a catch-and-run TD, and then Lee delivered his pick-six, and then Roberts turned in a 78-yard punt return TD-and suddenly the Jets felt about this game how they feel about Darnold: pretty darn sure. It was the first time the Jets had scored 40 points or more since the opener in 2012 against the Bills.

Darnold joined Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston (2015) and Brett Favre (1991) as quarterbacks who had their first pass intercepted and returned for a score. When no one was open, he held onto the ball, then felt pressure from Ricky Jean Francois. Darnold faked a handoff left to Bilal Powell and rolled right. The pick-six gave the Lions a 7-0 lead and had Ford Field rocking. But on "Monday Night Football", his NFL career started in the worst way possible.

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But this was more about Darnold and the Jets than it was about Stafford, Patricia and the Lions. He took advantage of it, moving the Jets to the end zone in five plays.

At 21 years, 97 days, Darnold becomes the youngest opening day starting QB in the NFL's Super Bowl era and the youngest starting QB for any game in franchise history. It was tied at 7 after one, and the Lions had minus-2 yards of offense.

The Jets dominated in all phases.

"The way he came in just set the tone right away", Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis said.

No. But I never thought they'd play so poorly against the Jets. He threw his first touchdown pass with 1:51 left in the first quarter. Darnold was still holding the ball while talking briefly with Stafford on the field.