Starter Sam? Darnold solid again, Jets lose to Giants 22-16
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Sam Darnold spent a few minutes chatting with Joe Namath and only wished he had more time.
At this rate, though, the youngster will have plenty more opportunities down the line.
Darnold led the Jets on two touchdown drives, moving closer to securing the starting quarterback job in a 22-16 loss to the New York Giants on Friday night.
That came after Darnold and the Jets' other quarterbacks met briefly on the field with the man who has led the team to its only Super Bowl win - 50 seasons ago.
"It was cool to meet `Broadway Joe,'" a smiling Darnold said. "And to know the history that he has with this franchise, it was awesome to get to meet him."
Jets fans are hoping Darnold might be able to someday have the same impact.
Small steps first, of course. The No. 3 overall draft pick made his second consecutive start, finishing 8 of 16 for 86 yards - including a 12-yard touchdown pass to Terrelle Pryor.
Darnold is competing with Teddy Bridgewater and Josh McCown for the Jets' starting job, but the rookie is being given every chance to be under center when New York opens the regular season at Detroit on Sept. 10.
"So far, I think I've been really consistent," Darnold said. "At the same time, obviously there's little things I can always get better at."
Bridgewater came in on the Jets' second offensive possession of the second half, while McCown never played. Bridgewater was 11 of 15 for 104 yards.
Darnold got off to a solid start, leading an 11-play, 75-yard drive on the Jets' opening series that was capped by Bilal Powell's 10-yard touchdown run.
Darnold converted two third-and-long plays during the possession, first with a 13-yard completion to Neal Sterling. On third-and-13 from the Giants 35, Darnold showed off his scrambling ability by scooting to his left and zipping upfield for 14 yards.
"It's kind of what I've done my whole life, just play football," Darnold said. "When something's not there and I see a lane, take it. But also continue to secure the ball and not turn the ball over. And, if I can do those things and just continue to play football at the same time, I think I'll be all right."
After Darnold's 11-yard completion to Robby Anderson, Powell ran untouched into the end zone to give the Jets (1-2) an early 7-0 lead.
"Any time you go down the field on your first drive and score a touchdown against a good defense, that's a good thing," coach Todd Bowles said. "For the most part, he did his job."
Darnold's second series went nowhere, hurt in large part by a false start penalty on tight end Eric Tomlinson.
"The punt return was just the spark we needed," Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. "It was a terrific run, well blocked."
JUST FOR KICKS
Aldrick Rosas kicked field goals of 48, 40, 27 and 21 yards to give the Giants a 19-13 lead into halftime.
The Giants' starters played just the first two quarters, with Eli Manning going 17 of 23 for 188 yards in what was likely his final tuneup before the regular season. Sterling Shepard had seven catches for 78 yards.
"I thought we did a couple of good things," Manning said. "Obviously, we'd like to score more when we get into the red zone down there. I thought there were a lot of good things and we moved the ball pretty well."
The backups opened the second half to face the Jets, who left their starters on both sides of the ball in for much of the third quarter.
Manning connected with Cody Latimer on a 54-yard pass on first down late in the first quarter to put the Giants at the Jets 6.
Jonathan Stewart took the handoff on the next play and was met by Avery Williamson, who ripped the ball out of the running back's hands. Leonard Williams scooped up the fumble and returned it 39 yards to the Giants 47.
Four plays later, Darnold completed a 16-yard pass to Quincy Enunwa on third-and-6 from the 28. Darnold then found Pryor to give the Jets the lead 56 seconds into the second quarter.
Giants running back Saquon Barkley, taken a spot ahead of Darnold, returned to practice this week on a limited basis for the first time since suffering a mild hamstring strain nine days earlier but sat out.
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was a full participant in practice, but also didn't play as he continues to work his way back after breaking his ankle last October.
There were no displays of protest by either the Jets or Giants, with both teams standing on the sideline for the anthem.
The Jets were called for 13 penalties, costing them 108 yards. The Giants were called for six for 50.
"It felt like more than that," Bowles said. "We can't have that going into opening day."
Giants: Starting TE Evan Engram left with 5:21 left in the second quarter with a concussion. He was sandwiched by Williamson and Darron Lee after catching a 6-yard pass at the Jets 24. The ball came loose at the end of the play and was ruled a fumble, but the call was overturned after a video review. ... Backup TE Rhett Ellison left in the second quarter with an eye injury.
Giants: home vs. New England next Thursday night.
Jets: at Philadelphia next Thursday night.
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Updated August 25, 2018