DETROIT (AP) — Sam Darnold had nowhere to go but up after his first career snap.
The rookie quarterback steadied himself quickly.
Darnold threw an interception on his very first NFL play, and Detroit’s Quandre Diggs returned it 37 yards for a touchdown to give the Lions an early lead over the New York Jets on Monday night. But by halftime, the Jets were up 17-10, and Darnold’s debut was looking a lot better.
On the first play of the game…
?: ESPN pic.twitter.com/VMaSDvdZXn
— NFL (@NFL) September 10, 2018
Darnold was 11 of 15 for 122 yards after two quarters. That included a 41-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson in the second quarter.
Despite the promising start, the Lions were booed by the home fans throughout the first half. Matthew Stafford threw two interceptions.
Darnold was drafted with the third overall pick this year, and he earned the start in the season opener for the Jets. But his first throw looked ill-advised from the moment it left his hand, floating toward the left sideline, where Diggs picked it off.
Darnold does have some company, at least. Jameis Winston had his first pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown in 2015. That was the first time a rookie’s first throw was returned for a TD since Brett Favre — then with Atlanta — in 1991.