In their first game against each other at their shared home in MetLife Stadium, Daniel Jones and Sam Darnold put up some solid numbers for their respective teams. But Darnold got the last laugh as the Jets pulled out a 34-27 win over the Giants.
On paper, it seems that Jones got the best of Darnold based on individual statistics--Jones finished the game 26-of-40 for 308 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions, compared to Darnold's not as eye popping performance of 230 yards and one touchdown on 19-of-30 passing--Darnold also ran in for a touchdown, as well.
But the glaring issues for Jones came at a familiar spot that's been hurting him all season: holding on to the football while in the pocket.
Jones fumbled the balls three times Sunday afternoon, including one lost fumble when safety Jamal Adams blitzed off the line of scrimmage, got passed his blocker (a banged up Saquon Barkley), stripped sacked Jones by just forcing the ball right out of his hands and returning it for a touchdown.
"We need to do a better job protecting, we had guys open," Pat Shurmer said after the game on the strip sack play. "That was a team thing."
Jones was sacked six times in the game, and although some of the blame can be given to the fact that the Giants were without two starting offensive lineman and lost a third midway through the second quarter, the rookie is still having trouble seeing the pass rush coming off the edge.
"I don't see it that way," Shurmer said on Jones not being able to read DB blitz's before the snap. "There were a couple of times where he had to throw it hot and he did, and then it also falls on some of the guys that are blocking to do a better job."
"We were challenged a little bit, we had three backup lineman in at that point and it's pretty obvious we were struggling to run the football," Shurmer said. "So then most of it goes on [Jones'] shoulders and we just couldn't get that done."
On a positive note, Jones got the passing game going at the right time considering Barkley seemed off all day and finished with just one yard on 13 carries.
Darius Slayton and Golden Tate each caught two touchdowns from Jones--Slayton also had his first career 100 yard game in the NFL.
"I do," Shurmer said on if he thought Jones was heading in the right direction. "He plays every game pretty heroically, finds a way to get production, but like every young player he has mistakes."
As for Darnold, he started the game 7-of-7 and got the Jets ahead to a 14-0 lead, connecting with Jamison Crowder on a 23-yard pass for a touchdown after running in the first score of the game himself.
"It seemed like he played clean, did some good things, used he legs, threw the ball away," Adam Gase said after the game. "He did a really good job today."
Since coming back from Mono, Darnold has had two strong games--this game and his first game back in the win over the Cowboys--and some really rough games--loss to the Patriots and Dolphins come to mind. But he continues to show flashes of progression as the season moves from week to week.
The Jets offense felt full and ready to go, and Darnold truly showed out when it mattered most to help pick up this much needed win.