Third-year quarterback Daniel Jones had not been remotely close to a major bullet point on the New York Giants’ list of overwhelming issues across the first three weeks of the season.
On Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, he showed the first real flashes that he can be the guy to help ease the pain of moving on from the retirement of Eli Manning.
Jones was superb in Sunday’s 27-21, overtime, come-from-behind victory over the New Orleans Saints down in the Big Easy, completing 28-of-40 passes for 402 yards with two touchdowns.
He dropped a dime from the heavens into the arms of the speedy John Ross during the second quarter for a 52-yard score to give the Giants a 7-0 lead.
When it looked like the Giants were cooked down 11 seven minutes remaining, he found Saquon Barkley — who was flexed out wide as a receiver — for a 54-yard score to get them within three after the mobile quarterback used his legs to convert a two-point attempt.
“He was consistently able to find open receivers, make good, accurate throws and the right decisions right there,” Giants head coach Joe Judge said. “You don’t have to go out there and go ahead and force the game, you just gotta go out there and make the plays that are in front of you.”
Getting the ball back on the Giants’ own 11-yard-line with 2:32 left, Jones passed for 55 of the 59 yards gained to get them into field goal range to tie it and force overtime.
Normally a team that finds ways to give games away, Jones didn’t waver in overtime, going 5-of-5 for 57 yards to set up Barkley’s game-winning six-yard touchdown rush.
“I think in those situations, it’s about trusting what we do, staying true to that, and knowing that someone is going to step up and make a play,” Jones said.
The Giants are on the board in the 2021 season, and the 24-year-old put together his first statement game as a pro — even if Judge attempts to keep things at an even keel.
“Look, I love Daniel, he had a heck of a game today. I’m not gonna go ahead and start making broad-picture statements and headline-type things,” he said. “As I’ve said consistently, Daniel Jones is our quarterback. However you want to label that and go forward with that, you guys can put that in the paper, but, look, I’m very proud of how this guy came down here, prepared throughout the week, and the performance he had on the field today in that environment against that defense.”
Jones is off to a fine start in 2021 as the struggles of last season become a thing of the past. He’s completed 66.7% of his passes for 1,184 yards, four touchdowns, and just one interception in four games — a much better ratio than the 11 scores and 10 picks he posted in 2020.
“He showed them what we’ve been [seeing]. Hopefully, you started seeing it too,” Barkley said. “Ever since the day he’s been drafted he’s been criticized. That guy does nothing but come in and work and get better and lead every single day. He’s a competitor. He showed today he’s a special player.
“We knew he was a special player.”