It was fun while it lasted.
Just six days after unexpectedly turning in one of the league’s most impressive season-opening performances, the Jets returned home and committed a familiar face-plant Sunday afternoon, draining the rare early-season excitement with a 20-12 loss to the Dolphins at MetLife Stadium.
Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold (25-of-41, 334 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions) showed flashes of brilliance — and inexperience — in an up-and-down showing, while the Jets defense created excellent pressure and gave the team a chance for its first 2-0 start in three years.
However, too many costly mistakes negated the Jets’ (1-1) edge in total yards gained and time of possession.
Miami (2-0) took control of the game by taking advantage of two early turnovers. For the second straight game, a Darnold interception set up the opponent’s first score, converted on a 6-yard Kenyan Drake touchdown run.
Robby Anderson gave away the ball next, fumbling at midfield with 4:56 left in the second quarter and setting up a 29-yard touchdown catch by Albert Wilson, giving the Dolphins a 14-0 lead. Miami added another touchdown in the final minute of the half — a 19-yard touchdown reception by A.J. Derby — after Morris Claiborne’s holding penalty kept the Dolphins’ drive alive.
The Jets blew a chance for points in the final seconds of the first half, as tight end Chris Herndon was tackled just short of the end zone, leaving them down 20-0 at the break.
Darnold opened the second half by leading the Jets on a 75-yard drive in just over three minutes, with Bilal Powell scoring on a 28-yard reception.
The crowd awoke and believed a comeback was in the works when Jordan Jenkins strip-sacked Tannehill on the first play of Miami’s next drive. But one play later, Darnold gave the ball right back and was picked off in the end zone by Xavien Howard with 11:33 left in the third quarter.
The Jets received back-to-back breaks — Miami fumbled a snap at midfield late in the third quarter and committed a roughing the passer penalty after Darnold threw an incomplete pass on third down of the ensuing drive — but could only get a 55-yard field goal from Jason Myers, which cut the deficit to 20-9 with 10:06 left in the fourth quarter.
After a stellar outing by the backfield in the 48-17 win in Detroit, the Jets rushed for just 42 yards on 19 carries.
Myers later added another field goal to put the Jets within one possession, but the Dolphins iced the game by converting a third-and-19 dump-off to Frank Gore with three minutes left.
The Jets next play Thursday night in Cleveland (0-1-1) in their third game in 11 days.