By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots’ defense has been ruining the lives of many opposing quarterbacks this season.

Sam Darnold is the latest victim.

The Jets’ second-year quarterback entered Monday night full of optimism, coming off a sparkling performance at home last week in a win over the Cowboys. That was Darnold’s first game back after fighting a bout of mononucleosis, and it provided the 22-year-old with the type of positive momentum he needed when going up against the NFL’s No. 1 defense.

That momentum didn’t carry him very far.

Darnold threw an interception on his first pass of the night, when the Jets already trailed 7-0. He led the Jets to a three-and-out on their next drive, and Tom Brady made it a 17-0 Patriots lead on the ensuing New England drive.

With a chance to steady himself, Darnold didn’t see John Simon rush in untouched off the right side on the Jets’ next drive, and Simon was able to strip the ball away from the quarterback. Kyle Van Noy recovered, and the Patriots made it hurt with yet another touchdown drive to make it a 24-0 lead for New England.

Later in the first half, aided by three Patriots penalties, the Jets were in position to score. But Darnold let a pass sail on a third-and-10 from the 19-yard line, and Duron Harmon intercepted the pass.

It was shortly after that pick that ESPN ran a brief clip of Darnold’s mic’d up moments from the first half. And it was in that montage that Darnold admitted that he was seeing ghosts.

How that revelation is handled by the New York media is anybody’s guess. But it probably won’t be very gently.

(The Patriots’ defense, by the way, prefers the term “Boogeymen,” not ghosts.)

One person who enjoyed hearing of Darnold’s admission was Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy.

“Ooh. He did?” Van Noy asked when told of what Darnold said. “Ooh, man. That’s the Boogeymen. It’s real.”

A reporter then started asking another question, but Van Noy interrupted.

“Sorry, sorry — he really said that?” Van Noy asked. “Aw, man. That’s crazy for him to say that. That makes it real, you know what I’m saying? That’s crazy. I mean … I can’t believe he said that. I mean … lost for words for a sec. But I think it’s just a testament to how well we’re playing, to be honest.”

Over in the losing locker room, Darnold was asked about his mic’d up moment.

“I think for me I gotta, just you know, when I talk to the coaches I just gotta be straight-up. For me, I’ve just got to see the field a lot better. That’s kind of what that means,” Darnold explained. “It was a rough day out there, a rough night out there, and obviously I’ve gotta be better and learn from the mistakes.”

Darnold went 6-for-13 for 34 yards with no touchdowns, the two interceptions, and the lost fumble in the first half alone.

It somehow got worse in the second half. Darnold threw an interception to Stephon Gilmore on the Jets’ opening possession of the second half. He watched as a shotgun snap sailed over his head for a safety on the next drive, and then he threw another interception — this time in the Patriots’ end zone to Terrence Brooks — on the following possession.

Darnold finished the night 11-for-32 for 86 yards with no touchdowns, four interceptions, and the fumble lost on his lone sack of the night. His 3.6 passer rating was by far the worst of his brief NFL career.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.


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