The 21-year-old Darnold showed the poise of a veteran on the drive while completing six straight passes to get to the Falcons 3. Some of his best throws came on the move as he eluded pressure.
"Yeah, it was pretty cool just to get that response from the crowd", Darnold said with a big grin. There were a couple of plays, especially on the sack, I felt like I could've gotten the ball out there. "But, you know, live and learn, I guess".
Darnold, the No. 3 overall draft pick in April, was the Jets' third quarterback of the game, following Josh McCown and Bridgewater. It culminated in this 16-yard touchdown strike to new Jets running back Isaiah Crowell.
Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold reacts to his National Football League preseason debut on Friday night and the response the fans gave him throughout the night. He quickly made up for the missed time, and is being given every opportunity to win the starting job.
"I thought penalties in this game cost us", coach Dan Quinn said. I'm not going to jump to any conclusions after one game. It's a tough decision. "It created some hard field positions to convert, so we didn't get the looks that we wanted to".
Bowles said Darnold "looked comfortable".
"He was excited going out there", Bowles said. "He had a smile on his face the whole time, so I think he enjoyed himself".
Bridgewater completed 4-of-5 passes for 37 yards on the touchdown-scoring drive. He would've had a seventh consecutive completion, but his throw into the end zone was dropped by Johnson.
Darnold's first series ended in a punt and his non-throwing left hand was checked out by trainers on the sideline after it was stepped on.
"It was awesome feeling", Bridgewater said. "I was at peace out there". It felt good getting hit. It served as a reminder that the game is still the same.
Crowell, in his first game with the Jets after four seasons in Cleveland, was evaluated for a head injury after taking a few hard hits on the play.
Darnold said the night was key in his transition to the NFL.
"The hashes are so much closer than college", Darnold said. It's really nice to get that width and be able to see what exactly the coverage is.