The New York Jets and the New York Giants are not going to the playoffs this season, but their futures look bright because of their outstanding first rounders – Sam Darnold and Saquon Barkley.
Both rookies were highly instrumental in securing wins this week against divisional foes. In a battle of rookie quarterbacks, Sam Darnold led the Jets (4-9) to a fourth quarter win over Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills 27-23. In the Giants (5-8) blowout over the Washington Redskins, Barkley produced 197 yards from scrimmage and unleashed a lightning-quick 78-touchdown run in which no one touched him.
Revenge Against the Bills Mafia
The Jets lost the first meeting of the season against the Bills during an inexcusable 41-10 blowout at the Meadowlands. Both rookie quarterbacks missed that game. Sam Darnold sat out with an injured foot and Josh Allen nursed a sore shoulder. Backup Josh McCown got his first start of the season for the Jets and things went off the rails quick. Matt Barkley started for the Bills in an easy victory.
The Jets wanted payback in the second meeting after the embarrassing loss. Both rookies started in this game, but Darnold came out ahead of Allen. Darnold engineered the fourth-quarter comeback with under two minutes remaining. It was his first comeback win for the Jets and he helped them snap a six-game losing streak.
After guiding the Bills to an early 17-6 lead with a rushing touchdown, Allen struggled in the second half. He contributed three turnovers including a fumble and two picks. He threw for 206 yards but no touchdowns in the loss. The Jets sacked Allen three times.
“The Jets have a great defense, but I still needed to play better,” said a dejected Allen after the game.
Darnold completed three key passes for 52 yards, including a 37-yard beauty to Robby Anderson. Darnold’s execution in the two-minute drill put the Jets in a key position to win the game. Elijah McGuire scored the winning touchdown with 1:17 remaining on a fourth-and-goal situation on the goal line.
“As a kid, you dream of converting two-minute drives and going down there and scoring,” Darnold said. “To be able to score a touchdown and put the ball in their hands at the end of the game was awesome.”
This season, Darnold completed 69.5 percent of his passes for 2,104 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. Against the Bills, Darnold completed 16 of 24 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown. He threw one interception, but it was not as costly as Allen’s miscues. The Jets’ O-line protected Darnold and did not allow any sacks.
Darnold threw his only touchdown of the day earlier in the fourth quarter. In the boxscore, it reads simply as a seven-yard touchdown pass from Darnold to Anderson. In reality, Darnold looked like a magician escaping from a straitjacket and evading Bills’ rushers, before he scrambled and unloaded a bullet to Anderson in the end zone.
Like a magician. #NYJvsBUF pic.twitter.com/Wsd7WVT4b6
— New York Jets (@nyjets) December 9, 2018
Rookie of the Year
The Giants picked up an easy win against the Washington Redskins (6-7) and third-string QB Mark Sanchez. The G-men opened up a 40-0 lead at one point before the Skins scored 16 unanswered points in garbage time.
No one is harder on Saquon Barkley than himself. After dropping an early pass in the game, the rookie RB apologized to Eli Manning and the entire team in the huddle.
Barkley said, “I went to line, quarterback, wide receivers and I said: ‘That series is on me. I’m going to make up for it. I promise you guys.’ And we were able to do that.”
The Giants were up 10-0 and forced a punt midway through the second quarter. On the next offensive play at their own 22-yard line, Barkley snapped off a 78-yard touchdown.
SAQUON IS A DEEP THREAT FROM THE BACKFIELD. @saquon pic.twitter.com/3kU0GiHnbv
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) December 9, 2018
Without Odell Beckham (quadriceps) in the lineup, Saquon became the primary weapon for the Giants. Barkley rushed for 159 yards in the first half. He finished with only 179 yards on the ground and 22 more in the air, but that’s because the Giants rest him for most of the second half.
“We’re starting to figure out that kind of this offense runs through him,” said quarterback Eli Manning, who threw for three touchdowns. “When we’re running the ball well, it just sets up everything else. It sets up the play action and it sets up so much.”
This season, Barkley scored 13 total touchdowns with nine rushing scores. With 1,124 rushing yards, Barkley is averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Barkley generated 1,753 total yards from scrimmage. He’s a reliable receiver out of the backfield with 78 receptions and four passing touchdowns.
In yet another record-setting day, Barkley became the first Giants rookie RB to pass the 1,000-yard rushing mark.