EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold left against Denver late in the first quarter Thursday night after a hard sack by linebacker Alexander Johnson, and soon returned to the game.
On a first down, Darnold tried to avoid the rush and was slammed to the ground by Johnson — who had missed an attempted sack earlier and saw Darnold escape for a 46-yard touchdown run. Darnold handed off on the next play, then headed to the sideline and into the locker room. Veteran Joe Flacco, in his first game as New York's backup, took over, but Darnold came back early in the second period.
No flag was thrown on Johnson's tackle.
Darnold has missed games in his first two NFL seasons with a foot injury and mononucleosis. He looked to be severely hurt, but came back for the end of the next series, taking another sack.
Denver tight end Noah Fant left in the third quarter with an ankle problem. He had five receptions for 35 yards when he departed.
Broncos rookie wide receiver KJ Hamler hurt his hamstring and was done for the night.
The Jets also lost defensive lineman Steve McLendon (knee); cornerback Bless Austin (calf); tackle Chuma Edoga (shoulder) in the first period. McLendon was probable to return. In the second quarter, first-round draft pick Mekhi Becton, who did not start because of a shoulder problem but came in for Edoga, left. Then wide receiver Lawrence Cager, up from the practice squad, injured his hamstring and was doubtful to return.