Just like an NFL preseason. Last week the Jets looked like they were on their way with a sweet shutout of the Falcons and QB Sam Darnold's solid pro debut.
Week 2 and it was evident on ESPN that the Jets were not quite there yet. Darnold got the start and, missing some front-line wideouts and starting offensive linemen, was inconsistent in producing a first-half field goal drive. Washington moved the ball on the Jets for 209 first-half yards, although the Jets had third-down answers to force the hosts to settle for threes on all of its first four red zone forays.
Then it got interesting. Teddy Bridgewater got hot for two scoring drives and 10 points in a 9:10 span of the fourth quarter, with Taylor Bertolet drilling his second field goal of the game. Suddenly the visitors led for the first time in the game, 13-12, with 1:52 to play.
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But the Redskins moved back down the field, with Dustin Hopkins drilling a 40-yarder just inside the left upright.
The Jets fell 15-13. And like almost all NFL summer games, there was a some things to like, some not to like, and a lot of work still to be done, at quarterback and elsewhere, as the Jets, now 1-1, prepare for the all-important third game of the preseason, as the home team in their 50th annual preseason match vs. the Giants on Aug. 24.
Here are seven observations on the
1. The Old Bend But Don't Break
The Redskins offense, led by Alex Smith, produced more yards on the opening drive of the game than the Falcons did in last week's entire first half, 71 yards to 60. Then the 'Skins went 36 more yards on their second drive. Both drives moved into the red zone. But each time the Jets defense had a third-down answer — Buster Skrine's end zone PD on the first series, Jordan Jenkins 1-yard sack on the second. So the hosts settled for two Dustin Hopkins field goals and took a 6-0 lead into the second quarter.
2. Sam Gets the Start
The first QB out for the Jets, no surprise, was rookie Sam Darnold. He became the first true rookie to start a Green & White preseason game since Geno Smith against the Giants in 2013. This first drive was not one for him to write home to Southern California about — he completed a 2-yard toss to TE Eric Tomlinson, threw incomplete under pressure for Robby Anderson, then was sacked for 7 yards on third down. Better drives are ahead for Sam for sure.
3. Kicking Back
Darnold's second drive, on a shorter field from his 40 after Hopkins' kickoff went out of bounds, led his first scoring drive of the night when he went 5-of-5 passing to move the Jets O to the Skins 12. A third-down sack brought on Bertolet to trim the visitors' deficit to 6-3 on his 36-yard field goal.
4. Turnabout Takeaways
Washington was driving again but wide-open WR Cam Sims not only couldn't hold Colt McCoy's pass but dished it right into the hands of S Doug Middleton, who took the ball 39 yards toward midfield for the Jets' second takeaway and first interception in the first two summer games. From there Darnold moved the Jets to the Skins 20, only to have his fourth-and-1 pass batted into the air by S Deshazor Everett and picked off by S Troy Apke.
5. Déjà Vu All Over Again
The Jets and Washington ended the first half the way they began it — with the Redskins driving, yet being stymied again in the red zone by the Green & White defense. This time CB Darryl Roberts was involved in the coverage as Sims couldn't come down with another McCoy pass, this one falling incomplete on the end zone sideline. Hopkins kicked his third field goal and the Jets trailed at the half 9-3 — not bad considering the hosts outgained the visitors 209 yards to 76.
6. Teddy's Turn, Charone's Return
Sam Darnold was up-and-down for his half, with a decent first-half accuracy at 8-for-11 but two batted balls, one INT, two sacks, one field goal drive and a 48.3 rating. Bridgewater took the reins in third quarter and the sledding didn't get much better for his first three series, all ending in punts. But a sidearm throw that RB George Atkinson caught and turned the corner for 30 yards to the Redskins 41.
That got the Jets started on the game's first touchdown drive, 71 yards long, and a lot of that was due to the reemergence of WR Charone Peake. Held to one catch in Game 2 at Oakland last year before a bad ankle injury landed him on IR, Peake had back-to-back big catches, for 13 yards to the Redskins' 16, then for the last 16 yards on his back in the end zone for the score.
7. T-Bridge Nearly Pulls It Out
Bridgewater's last drive went 64 yards, all the way to the Washington 1-yard line, before the Jets took their first lead of the game with Bertolet's second FG. But 1:52 proved to be too much time to leave on the clock as CB Rashard Robinson was called for holding on a third-and-5 stop, then yielded the 20-yard completion to Sims to the Jets 22, setting up Hopkins for the real game-winner.