JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)Sam Darnold went from seeing ghosts to seeing teal.
Darnold threw three interceptions and was sacked a career-high eight times in Jacksonville’s 29-15 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.
He was picked off twice in the fourth quarter, including one that set up Gardner Minshew’s game-sealing score to DJ Chark with a little more than 4 minutes to play.
”I know he saw a lot today,” said Jaguars defensive end Yannick Nkagoue, who notched two sacks. ”He saw corners picking the ball. He saw defensive linemen in his face. … This is the standard and what we’re trying to embrace.”
Darnold completed 21 of 30 passes for 218 yards with two touchdowns – both to Ryan Griffin – but the turnovers and takedowns overshadowed all the positives.
The Jaguars pressured him early and often, hitting him on nearly every passing play and sacking him twice as many times as any other team had during his two-year NFL career. He said afterward he sprained his left thumb.
”For some reason, I just didn’t throw the ball as well these last couple of games,” Darnold said. ”I just have to continue to practice hard and get better.”
Darnold’s performance came six days after he was caught on camera saying he was “seeing ghosts” in a 33-0 loss to New England. Darnold wore a microphone for ESPN’s broadcast of the Monday night game, and his comment went viral.
His words still resonated at TIAA Bank Field.
A plane circled the stadium pulling a huge banner that read: ”Gardner Minshew ain’t afraid of no ghost.” And Jacksonville’s mascot, Jaxson de Ville, ran onto the field shortly before kickoff wearing a white sheet over his head.
Fans donned sheets and waved ghostly signs, and the public address system cranked the ”Ghostbusters” theme song at the 2-minute warning.
”It is what it is. It didn’t affect me,” Darnold said. ”It’s just a silly thing for social media, fans. They’ll try to use it against you. For me, I was just playing bad because I did. I wasn’t executing out there. I wasn’t throwing the ball to where it needed to be. It wasn’t about that though.”
The Jets (1-6) managed 213 yards, with 93 of those coming on their opening drive.
”We had a lot of guys making plays, literally taking turns making plays,” Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell said. ”It was fun to be out there.”
Minshew completed 22 of 34 passes for 279 yards and three touchdowns, surely making the Jaguars think twice about giving the starting job back to Nick Foles.
The rookie also scrambled for 28 yards, including for three first downs. He has more mobility than Foles, who broke his collarbone in the season opener and could return from injured reserve in three weeks.
Minshew had scores to Keelan Cole, Chris Conley and Chark. The pass to Chark was his best of the day. He rolled right, pump-faked twice to move defenders and then hit Chark in the front corner of the end zone.
”Kind of just blacked out on that one,” Minshew said.
Jacksonville used two big plays to build an early lead. Leonard Fournette gained 66 yards on the second play of the game, setting up Cole’s 6-yard score, and Minshew’s TD pass to Conley covered 70 yards.
The Jaguars used two more – on the other side of the ball – to close out their second straight win. A.J. Bouye and Tre Herndon picked off passes in the fourth.
Jets: CB Trumaine Johnson left in the first half with an ankle injury. … C Ryan Kalil left in the third quarter with a right knee injury.
Jaguars: WR Dede Westbrook was ruled out at halftime with a neck/shoulder injury. He was questionable to play with a shoulder injury and re-injured in on a punt return. … Marqise Lee left in the second with a left shoulder injury. Cornerback D.J. Hayden left in the fourth quarter with a left shoulder injury and was ruled out. Safety Ronnie Harrison left late in the fourth with a neck injury.
Jets: Return to the Sunshine State to play AFC East rival Miami next Sunday. The Dolphins have won three straight and five of six in the series.
Jaguars: Travel to London for a ”home” game against AFC South rival Houston, which beat Jacksonville 13-12 in Week 2. It’s the Jags’ seventh consecutive year playing at Wembley Stadium.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL