Sam Darnold started and ended his first half as an NFL quarterback by throwing touchdowns.
The first was a lowlight as an ill-advised floater across the field was picked off by Lions safety Quandre Diggs and returned for a quick six points. The second was a highlight reel throw to Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson for a 41-yard score that put the Jets up 17-7.
The Lions would follow with their best offensive drive of the night, but it stalled after getting to the 6-yard-line and the Lions settled for three points to cut the Jets lead to 17-10 at halftime.
Matthew Stafford completed five straight passes to open that drive and scrambled for six yards to show that a blow to his left leg did not result in a serious injury. Stafford finished the half 10-of-20 for 102 yards and two interceptions that helped keep the offense from getting in gear.
His last incompletion of the half looked close to an interception by Jets rookie cornerback Parry Nickerson. Nickerson tried to get both feet down in the end zone, but was ruled to only get one of them in. Replays showed there may have been some question as to whether that was the case, but there was no second look called for from replay officials and the Lions kicked their field goal.
Darnold was 11-of-15 for 122 yards and generally stuck to shorter stuff outside of the big throw to Anderson. That touchdown came on third down and Darnold has converted four third downs through the air thus far. Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell have combined for 69 rushing yards to give the Jets good balance on offense through the first 30 minutes of the season.
The start wasn’t what they were looking for, but the rest of Monday’s performance has been just what the Jets were hoping to see. Now Darnold and company just have to finish the job.