The most impressive first game of the new NFL season goes to the New York Jets, a 48-17 winner over the Detroit Lions.
And that comes after the most disastrous career-opening pass I can ever remember. Watch it for yourselves as rookie Jets QB Sam Darnold passes against the grain into the hands of Quandre Diggs, who returned it 37 yards for a score on the first play of the game Monday night.
Sam Darnold's first career NFL pass is a pick-6!
(📍 ESPN, 7:10pm ET)pic.twitter.com/MBK8gJaQec
— ESPN (@espn) September 10, 2018
Those curse words of anger turned to curse words of joy for fans of the J-E-T-S, Jets Jets Jets. New York turned that 7-0 deficit into a 17-10 lead at the break — and then scored a mind-blowing 31 points in the third quarter, a quarter that could be the moment we pointed to the end of the Matt Stafford era in Detroit.
It was an opener to forget for new Detroit head coach Matt Patricia, too.
That third quarter started promising for the Lions, as Golden Tate caught a 24-yard pass to tie it up at 17-17. However, the Jets struck back quickly with a 21-yard touchdown from Darnold to Quincy Enunwa to make it 24-17.
And then 1:29 later, the game was over.
Darron Lee picked off Stafford and took it to the house. Stafford finished 27 of 46 for 286 yards, four interceptions and a QB rating of 47.9. Check out this factoid:
This is Matthew Stafford's fifth career four-interception game. Stafford has the most four-interception games of any quarterback in the NFL since he entered the league in 2009.
— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) September 11, 2018
I’m not sure about right this second, but as of last summer, Stafford was the highest-paid player in the history of the NFL — and I can’t think of a player less worth it, unless you go back to the rookie contract Sam Bradford got.
On the other hand, Darnold finished his first night in the NFL with 198 yards on 16 of 21 passing and a 116.8 rating. He also joined some fantastic company with his career-opening Pick 6: Brett Favre, who did the very same thing as a member of the Atlanta Falcons back in 1991.
The most impressive part of the Jets victory, however, was the defense and special teams. New York’s secondary accounted for five interceptions in all, including two from Lee. Andre Roberts returned a punt 78 yards for a TD in the third quarter, too.
It might be that the Detroit Lions are all sorts of terrible.
On the other hand, the New York Jets sure looked solid on defense, and their new quarterback looked more poised than a guy who’s been in the league for nearly a decade.
The future is bright, Jets fans. Very bright.