Texans topple Jets despite Sam Darnold’s best game of season

Not this time.

A week after coming up with a fourth-quarter comeback, the Jets came up just short on Saturday night. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson found star receiver DeAndre Hopkins for an amazing 14-yard touchdown catch in the closing minutes that handed the Jets a 29-22 loss at MetLife Stadium.

The loss dropped the Jets to 4-10 this season and ruined what was rookie quarterback Sam Darnold’s best performance.

It looked like Darnold was going to pull off more fourth-quarter heroics after beating the Bills a week ago. He led a 15-play, 73-yard drive that finished with Elijah McGuire scoring a 2-yard touchdown to give the Jets a 22-19 lead, their first of the game, with five minutes to play. On the drive, Darnold ran for first downs on three plays and threw a fourth-down completion to keep the drive alive. McGuire scored after initially getting stopped but having the entire Jets offense push him and the pile across the goal line.

The Jets sacked Watson six times, getting after the Texans star. But he found Hopkins, who finished with 10 catches for 170 yards, twice for touchdowns. Watson was 22-of-28 for 294 yards and the two touchdowns.

Watson sliced up the Jets defense on the game-winning drive. He hit Hopkins for 20 yards to start the drive and then threw to Hopkins again on third-and-4. The ball went out of bounds, but Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne was called for holding, giving the Texans a first down. Watson then found Demaryius Thomas for a 20-yard gain to get closer before finishing off the drive with two straight throws to Hopkins. The touchdown grab was amazing because Claiborne was all over Hopkins and he somehow made the catch with 2:15 left to play.

The Jets got the ball back, but J.J. Watt sacked Darnold on third down, and Darnold’s fourth-and-15 pass went off of Robby Anderson’s finger tips, ending any threat. The throw was high and Anderson was hit by Aaron Colvin as the ball got to him.

Darnold showed poise and looked like a veteran, not a 21-year-old, at times. He made plays with his arm and his feet and should have Jets fans excited for the future. He finished 24-of-38 for 253 yards and two touchdowns.

The Texans pushed the lead to 29-22 with just under a minute left on Ka’imi Fairbairn’s fifth field goal of the game.

You could feel the momentum shift in the second half for the Jets after Darnold led a last-minute touchdown drive just before halftime. The Jets were flying around the field on defense in the third quarter, forcing three three-and-out drives. On offense, the Jets reached the end zone on their first drive of the half.

Darnold moved the Jets down the field along with McGuire, who had a 14-yard run on the drive. From the Texans’ 13, Darnold found Andre Roberts for the touchdown. It was a beautiful double-move route by Roberts past Texans cornerback Shareece Wright and Darnold made the perfect pass. Jason Myers missed his second extra point, so the Jets did not tie the game. They instead trailed 16-15.

The Texans pushed their lead to 19-15 on a 49-yard field goal from Fairbairn. The Texans had to take the field goal after Watson was sacked for a 14-yard loss by Jamal Adams on third down.

The Texans took a 6-3 lead early in the second quarter with Fairbairn’s second field goal of the day. The Jets then took over and moved to their own 45 before Watt beat Jets tight end Jordan Leggett and drilled McGuire to force a fumble that Texans defensive lineman Angelo Blackson recovered. Watt, the all-world defensive end, had two sacks and the forced fumble.

The Texans immediately capitalized off of the turnover. On their second play, Watson threw a beautiful 45-yard touchdown pass to Hopkins, who beat Jets safety Darryl Roberts for the touchdown and the 13-3 lead. Watson had too much time on the play and Roberts showed poor ball awareness while tracking Hopkins.

Houston tacked on a 53-yard field goal from Fairbairn with 4:35 to go in the first half to make the lead 16-3.

The Jets got the ball back with 4:30 to go in the half and Darnold went to work. The rookie looked like a veteran as he carved up the Houston defense. He scrambled for 10 yards on third-and-3 to keep the drive alive and then connected with Chris Herndon for 16 yards and again for 12 yards.

Darnold made the big play with 50 seconds left in the half, finding Anderson for a 26-yard gain to put the ball on the Houston 5. On first-and-goal, Darnold did a beautiful job of keeping the play alive with his feet, then stopped just before the line of scrimmage and found Anderson in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown. It was the second straight week that Darnold and Anderson showed good chemistry in the red zone.

The nine-play, 83-yard drive ended with Myers missing his first extra point and the Jets headed to the locker room down 16-9.

Darnold built off last week’s fourth quarter in Buffalo in the first half on Saturday. He ended the half 14-of-19 for 142 yards with one touchdown for a rating of 112.2.

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