Sam Darnold Deshaun Watson
Robby Sabo, ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Deshaun Watson’s rookie season was marred by injury. His resiliency can serve as a great lesson to new talents, including New York Jets QB Sam Darnold.

Geoff Magliocchetti

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY—Calling Deshaun Watson a seasoned NFL veteran seems dubious at best. After all, the Clemson product is only in his second professional season. 

Nonetheless, the 23-year-old Houston Texans quarterback, fresh off the 20th start of his NFL career, can serve as an inspiration to the even younger talents that come after him.

On Saturday, Watson faced off with one of the few NFL quarterbacks that serve as his junior, New York Jets rookie Sam Darnold. The pair went at it for four solid quarters at MetLife Stadium, trading clutch plays with their favorite receivers.

In the end, Watson earned the victory via a victorious seven-play, 75-yard drive that provided the winning score. The Texans (10-4) inched closer to the AFC South title with the win. Watson is ready to make his first professional playoff appearance.

“It’s always fun when you have the opportunity on the big stage to lead your team to victory,” Watson said on Saturday. “I did it in college and I have to continue to do it in the NFL. Everything comes down to the final drive.”

(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Darnold’s Jets (4-10) are long removed from the playoff discussion. A win on Saturday, however, would’ve been a reprieve from the doldrums of a lost season. Lost in Watson’s heroics was a chance for Darnold and company to conjure up a winning streak to ring in the new year.

Less than a week after he led a game-winning touchdown drive in Buffalo, Darnold earned more respectable numbers, ones that ultimately came up short in defeat. In Monday afternoon conference calls, however, he finally acknowledged some of the positives Saturday yielded.

“I thought our whole offense played really well. There’s some plays we would like to have back, but other than that I thought we fought really hard, and it’s just those type of games you just hope you can win,” he said. “At the same time, there’s stuff that we can always learn from. Overall, as a whole offense, despite the outcome, I thought we took a step in the right direction.”

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