Sam Darnold Pass Decides It, in Favor of Dolphins, Not Jets

Sam Darnold Pass Decides It, in Favor of Dolphins, Not Jets

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Jets quarterback Sam Darnold had Miami Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker dancing and waving and clicking his heels on Sunday.

That’s the reaction returning an interception for a score can bring out.

Baker scored the game’s only touchdown, on a 25-yard return with 10 minutes 48 seconds left, and a resilient defense helped the Dolphins beat the Jets, 13-6.

Darnold, a rookie, threw four interceptions and took four sacks, and the Jets (3-6), who lost their third in a row, went 2 for 15 on third and fourth downs. Darnold went 21 for 39 for 229 yards and a passer rating of 31.8, the third time his rating was below 40. He entered the game tied for the N.F.L. lead with 10 interceptions.

“Two for sure he’d like to have back,” Jets Coach Todd Bowles said of the interceptions on Sunday. “Back to the drawing board.”

Darnold said: “I just have to be sharper. Personally, I have to have a better plan when I get to the line of scrimmage. I’ve got to know exactly where to go with the ball. If No. 1 or 2 isn’t there, I have to go to” the No. 3 receiver.

Center Spencer Long reinjured a finger and had a half-dozen off-target shotgun hikes, including one on Baker’s interception, which compounded problems for Darnold.

“We need to be more consistent, myself included especially,” Long said. The injury on the middle finger of his right hand, which he dealt with earlier this season, finally forced him from the game.

Darnold said of the bad snaps, “It disrupts timing, but there’s no excuse for how I played out there.”

The hobbled Dolphins (5-4) endured another wave of injuries and the departure of safety Reshad Jones, who pulled himself out of the game without explanation.

Their defense was much improved after giving up a combined 102 points in the previous three games.

“We never panicked; we knew what our defense was capable of,” said Baker, also a rookie. “When we are executing and do our job and play together, we’re one of the best defenses out there.”

The quality of the opposition helped the defense dominate, allowing Miami to win with only seven first downs and 168 yards of offense.

Darnold tried to rally the Jets from a 6-3 deficit, but he took a high snap and made an ill-advised throw to tight end Eric Tomlinson. Baker stepped in front for his first career interception and scored untouched.

“I didn’t throw it with confidence,” Darnold said. “I just alligator-armed it, threw it a little bit short.”

Much of the game was a slog, but Baker provided a video highlight celebrating with his teammates.

“There is nothing like it,” he said, game ball cradled under his arm. “It is the sweetest feeling ever, especially getting in the end zone, seeing your brothers running toward you.”

T. J. McDonald and Walt Aikens made interceptions to end the Jets’ final two possessions. The Jets’ points came on field goals of 48 and 56 yards by Jason Myers. Jason Sanders had two field goals for Miami.

“The guys did a good job of complementary football,” Dolphins Coach Adam Gase said. “They played together. They did a good job of stopping the run and making it as one-dimensional as possible.”

Miami broke a two-game losing streak and won for the second time in the past six games. Gase improved to 5-1 against the Jets, including two wins this year.

The Jets have scored 33 points during their three-game skid and have dropped nine of their past 10 road games dating to 2017.

Safety Jamal Adams called the latest defeat a 53-man effort but added: “It’s the same, same, same stuff. It’s frustrating. I’m not going to hold my tongue for anything anymore. Enough is enough. I’m not a loser.”

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