Heading into Week 6 of the NFL season, the New York Jets looked to once again be a franchise completely dead in the water.
The team’s record stood at a winless 0–4, superior to only the remaining winless teams who had more losses than them: the Dolphins, Redskins and Bengals. All the high praise that head coach Adam Gase received prior to the season, including his now-contested nickname of “the quarterback whisperer”, proved thus far to be an absolute false narrative. To make matters worse, the Jets’ future franchise quarterback, Sam Darnold, had missed the last four games with mono, making the offensive struggles that more intense.
With two more weeks of a tough start to the schedule facing them in matchups with the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots, many Jets supporters were starting to wonder if it was time to pull the plug on the season and prepare to tank for Tua Tagovailoa.
Fortunately for them, their beloved second-year quarterback had other plans.
After being cleared to play following a month-long absence due to a mononucleosis diagnosis, Sam Darnold returned to the Jets starting quarterback spot to lead his team in Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium. The USC product’s return had many hoping for an offensive spark that could rejuvenate the Jets and help them steer the ship in some positive direction.
Playing against a Cowboys team that despite having a solid offense and highly ranked defense were losers of their last two games coming into Sunday, this was exactly what the hungry and deprived Jets fanbase got.
The New York Jets, behind a two-touchdown performance by Darnold that included 23 completions for 338 yards, rallied together to defeat the Dallas Cowboys 24-22 and get their first win of the season. The victory boosts New York to 1-4 and at least keeps them treading above water as we approach the midway point of the NFL season.
The entire first half of the game was dominated by the New York Jets offense, as the offensive line played drastically better for their quarterback and he was able to make big plays down the field to open receivers.
Running back Le’Veon Bell was first to find the endzone late in the first quarter with a 2-yard touchdown run to put the Jets up 7-0. In recent weeks, the former Steeler has struggled to cross the line of scrimmage on many of his carries which only created another obstacle to the Jets’ success.
Later in the second quarter, Darnold reawakened all hopes that the Jets fans have of him possibly being the next franchise quarterback with an incredible 92-yard pass to wide receiver Robby Anderson for the game’s second touchdown.
Dallas’s offense was incapable of getting anything going in the first half, especially with young players like Quinnen Williams and Jamal Adams making key plays on Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot. Following a couple field goals by Brett Maher, they found themselves trailing New York 21-6 at halftime.
However, in the second half, things would slow down for Darnold and the Jets and pick up for Prescott and the Cowboys, and Gang Green would have to rely on their defense to save an inspiring performance.
The Cowboys, fueled by an interception by the defense, put together two offensive drives, the first an 84-yard drive ending in a touchdown by Ezekiel Elliot and the second a 75-yarder ending in a scramble score by Dak Prescott, to cut the Jets lead to 24-22 with under three minutes to go.
Looking to tie the game and force overtime, Dallas lined up to go for the two-point conversion, not expecting Gregg Williams’s defense to be prepared. If one person was prepared, it was safety Jamal Adams who continued his spectacular season with a blitz on Prescott to force an incomplete pass intended for the veteran tight end Jason Witten.
Dallas dared to attempt an onside kick with Maher, who had never kicked one in his NFL career, and it almost paid off. One of the newly acquired Jets, Demaryius Thomas, came up with the ball at the last second to seal the victory.
After the first game of the season where Darnold and the Jets could not produce enough to defeat the division rival Buffalo Bills, the group came together and produced enough to beat a talented turned concerning football team.
“I’m just really, really excited for the guys in this locker room,” Darnold said after the game. “We were starving for a win.”
Linebacker Jordan Jenkins pointed out all the doubters who predicted the game to be a Dallas field day, saying that they thought wrong.
“No one counted us to win that game. Everyone bet on the Cowboys. They thought we were going to come in and get blown out.”
Outside of Darnold’s stats, Le’Veon Bell led the run game with 14 carries for 50 yards to go along with his touchdown and Robby Anderson led the receivers with 5 receptions for 125 yards to go along with his touchdown as well.
Sunday’s victory not only gives the Jets a little momentum, it gives them and their fans a seldom reason for celebration. Heading into week 7 against the Patriots, we will have to see if the Jets can build off this timely victory and truly save their season.