After playing three games in his first 11 days, New York Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold had 10 days of rest and preparation prior to Week 4, which seemed to be much needed after a statistical regression in his stats over the first three starts of his career.
Darnold and the Jets might have needed a month to prepare for Week 4 as they were beaten handily by the Jacksonville Jaguars 31-12 on Sunday afternoon down in Florida.
The league’s second-best defense completely stifled the Jets offense, allowing just 178 total yards. Darnold, who had to contend with conservative play calling and inconsistent protection couldn’t get going at all as he was held to just 167 yards on 17-of-34 passing.
For the victorious hosts, quarterback Blake Bortles had one of the strongest days of his career, completing 29-of-38 passes for a career-high 388 yards and two touchdowns.
Behind his efforts, the Jaguars outgained the Jets by almost 330 yards as they ripped New York apart for 503 total yards on the day.
New York’s defense did it’s best to keep up with Jacksonville’s staunch unit, allowing just a pair of field goals in the opening 27 minutes. But with 1:47 remaining in the first half, running back TJ Yeldon took a screen pass from Bortles 31 yards to put the Jaguars up 13-0.
Yeldon was called back into action after Leonard Fournette was forced to leave the game early with hamstring tightness. It was his first game back since picking up the injury in Week 1 against the Giants.
Jacksonville’s No. 2 back would end the day with two touchdowns, a one-yard touchdown in the game’s final minute putting the icing on the easy win.
Yeldon’s first score was the highlight of a first half that saw Jacksonville take a 16-0 lead at the half. The Jaguars had almost double the offensive plays as the Jets in the opening half at 36 compared to just 19 while outgaining New York 270-86.
The Jaguars defense didn’t miss a beat in the second half, its first play of the third quarter resulting in a safety when Isaiah Crowell was brought down by Calais Campbell and Co. in the end zone to make it 18-0.
It was the Jets defense that had a hand in nine of the team’s 12 points on Sunday. A Darryl Roberts interception in the third quarter gave the New York offense possession on the Jaguars 23-yard-line. However, Darnold couldn’t take full advantage as the Jets settled for a field goal.
Jacksonville punched back almost immediately as Bortles put the exclamation point on his brilliant day, hooking up with Donte Moncrief for a 66-yard touchdown.
After another field goal in the fourth quarter, the Jets found the end zone for the first time when Avery Williamson stripped the ball from Yeldon, which was scooped up by Trumaine Johnson and returned to the Jaguars five-yard-line. Two plays later, Darnold hit Jordan Leggett for a two-yard touchdown to get the Jets within 12, but that was all they could muster on the day.