Sam Darnold threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, leading the New York Jets to an impressive 34-3 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday for their first three-game winning streak in over two years.
The suddenly resurgent Jets (4-7) dominated the Raiders (6-5), who are fighting the Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC West crown. On the rain-soaked MetLife Stadium turf Sunday, it was Gang Green that resembled a playoff contender, outplaying Oakland in the first half, then pulling away in the second half.
Darnold was 20 of 29 for 315 yards — the fourth 300-yard game of his career — with TDs to Robby Anderson and Ryan Griffin in another efficient outing that helped New York to its first three-game winning streak since Weeks 3-5 of the 2017 season. The Jets didn’t punt until the 2-minute mark of the third quarter.
With the game out of reach, coach Adam Gase took Darnold out in the closing minutes and had backup David Fales finish.
New York took a 13-3 lead into halftime and came out quickly in the second half. On the Jets’ third play of the third quarter, Braxton Berrios took a short pass from Darnold on a slant and zipped down the field for 69 yards before being pushed out of bounds at the 1. Darnold found a wide-open Ryan Griffin for a touchdown on the next play.
Griffin, signed to a three-year contract extension Saturday night, has a career-high five touchdown catches this season.
The Jets’ No. 1-ranked run defense then came up big on Oakland’s first possession of the second half, stuffing Alec Ingold for no gain on fourth-and-1 from the Raiders 39.
New York took over and used some razzle-dazzle, Darnold handing off to Bilal Powell, who flipped it to Jamison Crowder — who then tossed it back to the Jets quarterback. Darnold then threw to Anderson, who reached up for a 30-yard gain. Three plays later, Darnold connected with Anderson again for a 1-yard touchdown.
Trailing 3-0 after Daniel Carlson’s 48-yard field goal, the Jets appeared to score a touchdown on their opening drive for a team-record fifth straight game. But Darnold’s 8-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas was wiped away by a questionable penalty when officials called Daniel Brown for offensive pass interference after a video review. New York settled for a tying 24-yard field goal by Sam Ficken.
The Jets then benefited from what appeared to be another shaky call on their next drive. Darnold was sacked by Maxx Crosby from the 9, but Maurice Hurst was called for roughing the passer; officials ruled he dived on the pile late.
Instead of a huge loss of yardage and down, it put the ball at the Raiders 4. Darnold faked the handoff to Le’Veon Bell, then kept the ball, ran up the middle and trucked through D.J. Swearinger for a 4-yard touchdown that gave New York a 10-3 lead early in the second quarter.
On the injury front, Jets rookie RT Chuma Edoga left early in the second quarter when he injured his left leg. He was helped off the field without putting any weight on the leg and he didn’t return.
The Jets will look to make it four straight wins next Sunday against the winless Cincinnati Bengals.
— Dennis Waszak Jr.