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As Sam Darnold kneeled on the ball three times to end the Jets’ first win of the season, the quarterback could not help but smile.
“It’s the greatest feeling in sports to be able to ice the game out and to know we had it,” Darnold said. “It’s the best.”
Darnold played his best game of the season in the Jets’ first win of the year. Darnold was efficient and did not turn the ball over. He did not make any spectacular deep throws, but played a heady game and made plays when he had to. The biggest throw was a third-and-6 pass to running back Frank Gore that secured the win.
“He did a great job,” coach Adam Gase said. “He made the right decisions. There was no panic. He was calm through the entire game. That third-down play was textbook of going through his progression and finding the back. Good thing we had a Hall of Fame running back in there that seems to make plays at the right time.”
Darnold went 22-for-31 for 207 yards with a touchdown pass. The key for Darnold was getting rid of the ball quickly to avoid the Rams’ fearsome pass rush, led by Aaron Donald. Darnold was sacked just twice in the game, but Donald had none.
“It was huge,” Darnold said. “That was our game plan coming in. We knew they were going to disrupt us up front, and I knew I just had to get the ball out.”
Rookie punter Braden Mann made the biggest tackle in the game. Rams punt returner Nsimba Webster broke off a 34-yard return with five minutes left in the game, but it looked like he was going to go all the way until Mann tackled him at the Jets’ 43. The defense stopped the Rams there.
“Braden Mann, game-saving tackle,” Darnold said. “Can’t say enough about him and his effort. I think he’s made a couple of those this year.”
DL Quinnen Williams left the game with a concussion. He was the only player who did not return to the game.
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