For just a moment on Sunday, Sam Darnold grimaced.
The quarterback was slow to get up after attempting to scramble for a first down in the fourth quarter of the Jets' 35-9 loss to the Chiefs. Brought down by two Kansas City defenders, Darnold rose to his feet favoring his right arm.
It was the same look that flashed across his face in Week 4 after the 23-year-old was slammed to the turf by a Broncos pass rusher, landing hard on his throwing shoulder.
That play, on Oct. 1, resulted in Darnold sitting for two games as he began nursing a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder. This time around, however, the quarterback is confident he won't miss any time.
"It’s fine, it’s fine," Darnold assured reporters in a postgame presser on Zoom. "It was not a great decision by me. It was third and forever and I tried to run for it. I’ve got to get down there."
How did he know he's feeling okay?
"I was able to get back up and throw," he said.
On third and ten, after two incompletions to start New York's first drive of the fourth quarter, Darnold scampered up the middle. Rather than sliding short as defenders swarmed around him, Darnold lurched forward. He was tackled hard by Tershawn Wharton and Tanoh Kpassagnon.
Despite appearing to aggravate his shoulder on the play, Darnold went on to stay in the game. After Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs marched down the field on their ensuing drive—resulting in Mahomes' fifth and final touchdown pass on the afternoon—Darnold jogged back out with the offense without missing a single snap.
Jets head coach Adam Gase knew it was safe to leave his starting quarterback in the game after checking in with Darnold on the sideline.
"We were all trying to see what was going on there and he was like, ‘I’m fine. I’m fine,’" Gase said in the postgame presser. "All indications right now, it seems that he’s okay."
Even with Darnold feeling healthy after the game, Gase hasn't forgotten about what happened a month ago.
"Obviously with what happened a few weeks back, we’ll be doubling back on that and making sure that he is okay," he said. "We’ll just keep a close eye on that one."
Darnold finished 18-of-30 passing for 133 yards in the blowout loss at Arrowhead Stadium. His last touchdown pass this season came in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Despite Darnold's persisting struggles, as New York has been held out of the end zone for seven consecutive quarters and failed to score in the second half for the second game in a row, Gase said his quarterback "did some good things" on Sunday.
"I thought especially early, he was seeing the defense well. He knew where to go with the ball, he was decisive, he was trying to get rid of it quick and try to get our offensive line in rhythm," Gase explained. "There’s a couple plays I’m sure we’ll go back and look and he’ll look at and say I wish I would’ve done that. When we got to the second half, and we started to get down, then it’s things are happening a lot faster because that rush, they’re not worried about the run game anymore. They’re coming after the quarterback."