When the Jets’ Brian Poole returned an interception for a touchdown in the third quarter, the rout against the Raiders that literally no one expected was officially on.
There were more than a few open jaws.
And, yes, you and I both started thinking about the playoffs or what realistic playoff thoughts might have been with a healthy Sam Darnold all season.
Darnold certainly was at his best in his team’s 34-3 victory over the Raiders and looked all like the playoff and franchise quarterback Jets’ fans have been longing for since Joe Namath.
It was a victory without any noticeable blemishes on either side of the ball against a respectable opponent.
In short, the Jets validated themselves Sunday afternoon at MetLife.
Those who braved the rainy, windy, chilly elements feel warm inside.
Let’s not call them a playoff-caliber team yet, but there are headed in the right direction with this win.
Darnold, head coach Adam Gase, and some luck played a big part.
Being hurried and rushed all afternoon, Darnold stepped in and out of the pocket, ran when he
Should have, and threw the ball away on cue.
He was the victim of just one sack behind a productive day behind the offensive line of Jonotthan Harrison, Alex Lewis Tom Compton, Kelvin Beachum and Churma Edoga (left with a knee injury) and Brandon Shell who looked good against the inadequate Giants and Redskins before their test with Oakland Sunday.
That sack was part of a questionable roughing the passer penalty that led to Darnold scoring on a four-yard bootleg off a convincing play fake that gave the Jets a 10-3 lead in the second quarter.
Like fate that falls upon good teams, the Jets were benefactors of two dropped passes by open Raiders’ receivers and also benefitted from a few other calls.
Darnold, who hit six of his first seven passes and 12 of his 17 in the opening half, found little-used Braxton Berrios – the team’s kick returner – open in the flat, and Berrios outran the Raiders’ defense 69 yards to the one-yard line.
From there, Darnold scrambled right and then threw back across the field to a wide-open Ryan Griffin for the score.
The Jets’ defense shut down the Raiders’ running game for 68 yards, and didn’t allow the Raiders inside their 20 all afternoon.
Give Gase credit for a team that was sharp, precise, and focused throughout the whole game.
Gase and his staff called a great game, utilizing Robbie Anderson and Jamison Crowder effectively as well as Le’Veon Bell out of the backfield. Gase even pulled out a flea flicker pitch back to Darnold, who found Anderson downfield inside the 10.
Three straight wins in a town starving for wins and respectability, and you have won them over.
A trip to meet the winless Bengals is next followed by a home date against the floundering Dolphins.
At that point, you have to feel good about having a good chance being 6-7 with Baltimore Ravens waiting ahead.
Remember, linebacker CJ Mosely, who was on his way to single-handedly winning the Buffalo game, hopefully will return soon.
Don’t get too excited, though. There are more signs for a bright future.
Just enjoy the moment.