Wed, Sep 12, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Rookie Darnold helps Jets rout Lions

AP, DETROIT, Michigan

Sam Darnold of the New York Jets looks to throw a pass against the Detroit Lions in the third quarter of their NFL game in Detroit, Michigan, on Monday.

Photo: AFP

Sam Darnold rolled right and made a rookie move, lobbing a football across the field that was picked off and returned for a touchdown.

It might have been his only mistake all night.

Darnold on Monday made a stellar debut after throwing a pick-6 on his first NFL snap as the New York Jets intercepted five passes and also scored on special teams in a 48-17 rout over the Detroit Lions.

The 21-year-old became the youngest quarterback to start a season opener since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger and looked his age on the first play.

“Licking my chops a little bit too much, I think, on that play,” Darnold said.

Quandre Diggs intercepted his ill-advised pass and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown 20 seconds into the game.

“On that interception, I was pretty nervous,” Darnold said. “After that, I put it behind me.”

The former University of Southern California star, drafted No. 3 overall, shook off the nerves and finished 16 of 21 for 198 yards and two touchdowns.

He is the first quarterback to win his first start by 31 or more points since Tom Brady in 2001, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

“He didn’t flinch,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said. “He didn’t even blink.”

Darnold helped the Jets set a franchise record for points on the road, surpassing the 47 they scored in 1967 against the Boston Patriots.

He also outplayed 30-year-old Matthew Stafford.

Stafford threw four interceptions — one shy of his career high — and left the game briefly in the third quarter after being hit from the front and back by the swarming, hard-hitting Jets.

“We wanted to make sure we came out and made a statement in this game,” New York linebacker Darron Lee said.

Stafford was 27 of 46 for 286 yards and a touchdown pass to Golden Tate early in the third quarter to tie it at 17-17.

He was mercifully taken out midway through the fourth quarter and replaced by Matt Cassel with Detroit down by 31 points.

“Story of the game’s turnovers, you know?” Stafford said. “We had too many of them, I had too many of them.”

Detroit’s Matt Patricia will want to forget his debut as an NFL head coach.

“We’ve got to coach this a lot better than what we did,” Patricia said. “We’ve got to go out and execute a lot better on the field. It’s a team game and it starts with me.”

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