Sam Darnold, Le'Veon Bell
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images, AP Photo

The New York Jets’ key numbers from their 34-27 win over the Giants feature Sam Darnold, Le’Veon Bell and Saquon Barkley. 

86.5 – Sam Darnold‘s unadjusted QBR

Sam Darnold bounced back in a huge way against the Giants, putting an end to the three-week cold stretch he entered the game with.

In the box score, Darnold’s stats were solid, but not necessarily spectacular. Darnold completed 19 of 30 passes for 230 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He averaged 7.7 yards per attempt and posted a solid 97.9 passer rating.

One could look across to the other side of the box score and be led to believe that Daniel Jones outplayed Darnold. Jones completed 26 of 40 passes for 308 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. He earned a much more impressive passer rating of 121.7.

However, the simple box score stats are misleading in this case, as they often are. Jones was solid, but Darnold was the better quarterback. There were many things that Darnold did well and Jones did not that the box score simply cannot capture. Thus, you get a deceiving stat sheet.

Jones fumbled the ball three times, losing one. He also lost the ball on a play that was called an incomplete pass, but was very nearly a fourth fumble. Darnold did not fumble once.

In addition, Jones had a handful of near-interceptions. Of his four touchdown passes, two occurred thanks to tremendous after-the-catch runs by Darius Slayton and Golden Tate. Jones did his job on those plays, but received much more statistical credit in the standard box score than he actually deserved thanks to the playmaking of his receivers.

Darnold had some YAC production as well, but his performance was much more consistent and sound on the whole. He handled the pressure with gusto, looking significantly more refined in that area than he did over the previous few weeks. Darnold made multiple big plays after stepping up to avoid the edge rush. He finally got back to making noise outside of the pocket, which was his signature skill throughout 2018.

The sack column is another interesting one. Both quarterbacks were knocked down at about the same rate (Jones 25 percent, Darnold 27 percent), but Jones took six sacks while Darnold only took two. It’s a testament to the elusiveness that Darnold showed throughout the game.

Adding to Darnold’s off-the-stat sheet contributions, he ran for a touchdown on a smart read-option call and also scampered for a crucial 24-yard pickup on a third-down play in the third quarter. He also created a couple of first downs through defensive penalties, both courtesy of DeAndre Baker against Robby Anderson (Jones did draw one pass interference call as well).

Daniel Jones was impressive in this game. But Sam Darnold was even stronger, even though the box score would lead you to believe the opposite.

Advanced stats like ESPN’s QBR are perfect for telling the proper story in cases like this one. QBR accounts for everything ⁠— sacks, rushing, penalties, fumbles, air yards, after-the-catch yards, down, distance, field position, score. Everything.

Darnold posted an 86.5 QBR (0-to-100 scale), the third-best mark of Week 10 (prior to MNF). Jones was also solid, posting a 72.0, which ranked seventh-best.

Both MetLife teams have a young quarterback to be excited about going forward. But in their first head-to-head clash, Darnold was the victor.

4 – Yards gained on Le’Veon Bell‘s longest run

Le’Veon Bell just cannot get going.

After appearing on the injury report throughout the week, Bell spent a good amount of time on the sideline against the Giants. When he was on the field, he was ineffective, rushing for only 34 yards on 18 carries (1.9 per attempt). Bell did grab all four of his targets for 34 receiving yards, but he did not appear to be in the best condition.

The offensive line has been freakishly bad throughout the season, and that continued against the Giants. However, at some point, Bell deserves some criticism for his lack of efficiency. His production has not just been bad, it’s been terrible. Bell’s average of 3.1 yards-per-carry is the league’s worst mark among qualifiers. If he maintains his current pace, Bell’s current YPC rate would be the eighth-worst single-season average in NFL history by a player with at least 200 rush attempts.

1 – rushing yards for Saquon Barkley

The depleted New York Jets secondary was torched, but the front seven’s dominance saved the day.

Gregg Williams’ defense has been dominant against the run all year, and that continued in resounding fashion against the Giants. Saquon Barkley was held to one yard on 13 carries. That stands as the fewest rushing yards the Jets have ever allowed to an opponent with at least 13 attempts. It also stands as the worst total ever by a Giant with at least 13 attempts.

The Jets have allowed a league-low 3.01 yards per rush attempt. That is the best mark by any team through nine games since the 2010 Steelers, who went on to reach the Super Bowl. For the Jets, it’s the third-best mark through nine games in franchise history, trailing only the 10-win 1986 team and the Super Bowl III champion 1968 team.

While the run defense has been there all season, the Jets had been getting very little pass-rushing production. They came into Week 10 with the league’s second-lowest sack rate.

That all changed against the Giants. The Jets racked up a total of 10 quarterback hits on Daniel Jones, six of those sacks. Both totals are season-bests.

Jamal Adams was a huge part of the action, picking up two sacks. Jordan Jenkins had two sacks of his own, both quality wins off the edge. Nathan Shepherd had his best game as a pro, collecting a sack and two more tackles for loss.

The Jets could scoop up a handful of wins against soft competition over the next few weeks. If they are going to get on a late-season roll, the pass rush needs to consistently be as dominant as it was against the Giants.