Maybe Sam Darnold really was seeing ghosts.
Down 24–0 in the second quarter of Week 7’s contest against the Patriots, the Jets’ 22-year-old quarterback admitted as much while sitting on the sideline. Darnold had just thrown his second interception of the game––his third turnover of the half––in what had become an early blowout for New England at MetLife Stadium.
“They’re going to keep bringing it,” the mic’d up Darnold said, later adding, “I’m seeing ghosts.”
Whatever it was, one thing during Monday night’s 33–0 loss was clear: The Patriots’ defense was still haunting the lives of its opposing quarterbacks.
Darnold was just the latest victim.
Entering the night full of optimism after a big 23–20 win over the Cowboys last week, Darnold and the Jets hoped the momentum would carry them against the league’s No. 1 defense.
It didn’t. Already down 7-0, Darnold was picked off by Devin McCourty on his first pass of the night. The turnover gave the Patriots an additional three points before Darnold promptly went three-and-out on the Jets’ ensuing drive. Tom Brady (31-of-45 for 249 yards, one touchdown and one interception) made it 17–0 on New England’s next possession.
An already-ugly half got even uglier when Darnold failed to see John Simon rush him untouched, leading to a fumble recovered by New England’s Kyle Van Noy. Another touchdown drive from Brady, this one capped by a 26-yard score to Phillip Dorsett, extended the Patriots’ lead to 24. And when the Jets were finally in position to score later in the second quarter, Darnold let a pass sail on a third-and-10 from the 19-yard line––one Duron Harmon easily intercepted.
Darnold threw for just 34 yards in the first half, his fewest at halftime in his career, and was 6-for-13 passing.
The nightmare didn’t end there, either. The Jets’ first three second-half drives on offense ended in another Darnold interception, a safety and another Darnold interception. New England was up 33–0 by the start of the fourth quarter, though the game was over far before then.
Darnold wasn't alone in his poor play. The defense looked abysmal from the get-go, giving up scores on its first four drives, surrendering three touchdown runs to Sony Michel and allowing the Patriots to convert in every meaningful situation. The offensive line was a disaster, too, seemingly unable to pick up a blitz and leaving Darnold scrambling for his life.
The Patriots’ defense, meanwhile, has become a beast that can’t be tamed. By the end of the game, the unit had held Darnold to 11-of-32 passing for just 86 yards, four interceptions and a rating of just 3.6. They sacked him once for 13 yards and pressured him into endless blunders, holding the Jets to 154 total yards.
And as if those woes weren’t enough, Adam Gase opted to keep Darnold in for all four quarters. Games like Monday night’s leave scars, and if the Jets are to ever regain the optimism they felt following last week’s win over Dallas, they’ll need Darnold to get over the pain of this one quickly.
Otherwise, those “ghosts” may not disappear anytime soon.
NOW ON THE MMQB: Several head coaches stand out through seven weeks this season, but which one is the frontrunner for this year's Coach of the Year award? Conor Orr examines. ... How Lamar Jackson is becoming the NFL's must-see quarterback, from Albert Breer. ... These are some happy days in Green Bay. Orr and Jenny Vrentas talk Aaron Rodgers and his big week on the MMQB podcast. ... and more.
WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Why the NFC North is the league's toughest division, from Kalyn Kahler. ... Jalen Ramsey had a solid Rams' debut. Albert Breer takes us inside his trade. ... The trade deadline is one week away. Here are your buyers and sellers ahead of the big day. ... and more.
1. The NFL fines OBJ. Again.
2. Matt Nagy wants you to know he isn't an idiot.
3. Gareon Conley is headed to Houston.
4. The Cardinals are hosting Jay Ajayi as they seek some running back help.
5. The end is near for Dan Quinn and the Falcons.
Live your best life this week, à la Bill Belichick.
Question or comment? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.