Sam Darnold’s NFL Debut Was Strikingly Similar To Tom Brady’s In 2001

The Sam Darnold era got off to a hot start Monday night.

The New York Jets rookie quarterback tossed a pick-six on the first play of the game against the Detroit Lions, but it was smooth sailing from there as the USC product went 16-for-21 for 198 yards and two touchdowns in the Jets’ 48-17 clobbering of the Lions.

With that massive 31-point win, Darnold did something that hasn’t been accomplished since Tom Brady did so in 2001 when he won his first NFL start 44-13 over the Indianapolis Colts.

Much like Darnold, Brady didn’t have a lot to do with his team’s win in his first start, going 13-for-23 for 168 yards with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. Bill Belichick’s vaunted defense turned Peyton Manning (three interceptions) and the Colts’ offense over four times in the win. The Jets, likewise, picked off Matthew Stafford four times and got scores from their defense and special teams to give their rookie signal-caller a large cushion.

It’s obviously way, way too early for the Brady comparisons, but the Jets had to have loved what they saw from the rookie in his debut. Darnold shook off the early mistake to pilot New York’s offense to a resounding Week 1 win, leaving many Jets fans believing he could lead them back to playoffs this year.

The Jets have sky-high expectations for Darnold, and while it’s only one start, he seems like he just might be up to the task.

Thumbnail photo via Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports Images

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