LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Limited playing experience in high school and college makes Sam Darnold appreciate every game, even if it’s just the preseason.
The third overall pick made his first exhibition start for the New York Jets on Thursday night and showed some of the growing pains of a rookie quarterback by throwing an interception , taking two sacks and having a couple of balls batted out of the air.
Darnold was 8 of 11 for 62 yards in the first half before giving way to Teddy Bridgewater in a game the Jets lost to the Washington Redskins 15-13 on a last-second field goal.
“Any game experience is huge,” said Darnold, who felt he played well but wasn’t as sharp as his 13 of 18 for 96 yards preseason debut. “I feel like I’m going to continue to grow and get better every single day, and that’s what I’m most excited about is to see how much I’m going to be able to grow and get better.”
Darnold went in looking like the front-runner to win New York’s starting QB competition, and it’s still muddled after Bridgewater was 10 of 15 for 127 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Veteran Josh McCown didn’t play after starting the first preseason game because coach Todd Bowles already knows what he has in the 39-year-old.
“It’s already been cloudy,” Bowles said. “It’ll be a tough choice.”
Darnold showed flashes for the Jets (1-1), going 5 of 5 on his second drive but was sacked by Preston Smith to force a field goal on a night full of them. Bridgewater took some intentional risks to test the left knee he injured two years ago to the point Bowles joked he had a neighborhood he could send the former Vikings quarterback to if he wanted to get hit.
“Some of those plays, I could’ve thrown the ball away or run out of bounds, but I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could take a hit and it was fun,” Bridgewater said.
Redskins starter Alex Smith was 4 of 6 for 48 yards in one series, his only work so far in the preseason. Smith said he always wished he could play more but acknowledged “it’s a fine line.”
Washington kicker Dustin Hopkins made all five of his field-goal attempts, including a 40-yarder as time expired to win it for the Redskins (1-1).
Jets: CB Jeremy Clark left with a hamstring injury. … LT Kelvin Beachum (foot), RG Brian Winters (abdominal), RB Isaiah Crowell (concussion) and DL Steve McLendon (leg) did not play.
Redskins: RB Samaje Perine injured an ankle on his first carry, a 30-yard run , and did not return. Coach Jay Gruden said Perine twisted his ankle but expects him to be OK … RB Byron Marshall was evaluated for a lower-leg injury that Gruden said was fine after an MRI. … LT Trent Williams, RB Chris Thompson, WR Maurice Harris and Jamison Crowder, TE Jordan Reed, OT Ty Nsekhe and DL Matt Ioannidis and Phil Taylor were among those nursing or coming off injuries who didn’t dress.
REDSKINS RB COMPETITION
After second-round pick Derrius Guice’s season ended because of a torn ACL , Rob Kelley was up first to show he deserves to be Washington’s starter. Kelley had seven carries for 17 yards, Perine was impressive on his one run before being injured, Marshall had a kick-return fumble that was overturned on video review and Kapri Bibbs made six catches for 47 yards with only 6 yards on the ground.
“It will be a tough deal for us to figure all that out, but we will,” Gruden said.
Linebacker Jordan Jenkins was flagged on the game’s opening drive for roughing the passer against Smith when he drove the QB into the ground. Darron Lee was penalized for a horse-collar tackle on Redskins punt returner Danny Johnson. Then, there was rookie Frankie Luvu, who led with his helmet into Colt McCoy on a more egregious roughing-the-passer violation than what Jenkins had.
All players appeared to stand for the national anthem. Jets players locked arms along the visiting sideline with no one remaining in the locker room.
Jets: See what more Darnold can do in game action when they face the Giants on Aug. 24.
Redskins: Are expected to give Smith more snaps Aug. 24 when they host the Denver Broncos.