New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold didn’t return from mono as quickly as the team would have liked, but he returned just in the nick of time to perhaps save the team’s season. Darnold threw for 338 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Jets to a 24-22 win over the Cowboys. The win was a sigh of relief for the Jets and their fans, creating a glimmer of hope that the Jets can salvage their season with their young quarterback at the helm.
Sunday’s game against Dallas was Darnold’s first since Week 1, a disappointing 17-16 loss to the Bills. Unbeknownst to him, Darnold was feeling the symptoms of mono in that game before getting the official diagnosis a couple of days later. The Jets held out hope that he would be able to return after the team’s bye in Week 4. But because of an enlarged spleen that accompanies mono, Darnold wasn’t cleared for physical contract until this past week.
Without him, the Jets turned to backup Trevor Siemian, who suffered a season-ending injury in his first start as Darnold’s replacement. The Jets then had to turn to Luke Falk to make two starts, both of which were disastrous. In the three games that Darnold missed, the Jets scored a total of 23 points, with two of the three touchdowns coming from the New York defense. Needless to say, Darnold provided an instant spark, including a 92-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson.
“Sam is a special player,” said Jets running back Le’Veon Bell. “You’ve got a guy in there who’s able to make plays, get the ball down field and get everybody lined up perfectly, getting them out of the huddle — a vocal leader. … We’ve been missing that these last couple of weeks.”
Despite the jubilation over the win, the Jets get a hard dose of reality, as they turn their attention to hosting the Patriots next Monday night. However, after the game with New England, the Jets play just three of their final 10 games against teams that currently have winning records. Such a favorable schedule could be enough to leave the door ajar for the Jets to get things turned around now that their starting quarterback has returned.