The legend of Daniel Jones has been born.
Leading your team back from an 18-point halftime deficit with Saquon Barkley watching from the sidelines on crutches, scoring the game-winning touchdown yourself while in all passing for two scores and running for two others will bring about that kind of reaction.
Considering all the vitriol spewed in the direction of Jones and GM Dave Gettleman after the Giants made him the No. 6 overall pick in the draft last April, it’s a pretty amazing thing.
Jones called Sunday’s comeback victory “a fun finish.”
“They were playing some kind of man and it just opened up, I saw grass and took it,” Jones said of his game-winning run. “A fun finish to it, exciting last drive. Thought we did a good job getting people open and protecting. It was a fun finish.”
Jones showed in the first half how he can change the Giants offense, using his legs to go 7 yards for a score on a zone read. He went 12 of 19 passing in that first half with the touchdown run, 21 yards rushing and enough good plays to make you feel like despite the fact the Giants were getting trounced and were about to fall to 0-3 you would come out of the game with something to be optimistic about.
Then, the second half happened.
During the Giants' 32-31 win at Tampa Bay, Daniel Jones became the first NFL rookie QB with at least 300 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in a single game since 1970.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 23, 2019
Barkley needed crutches and had a boot on his right foot. And on this day, the Giants Superman proving mortal didn’t seem to matter.
Jones got some help from Evan Engram, who turned a pedestrian short pass into a 75-yard touchdown.
He got some help from a defense that got some stops in the second half after giving up scores on all six Tampa Bay possessions in the second half.
He got some help from the Bucs, who seemed to largely forget over the final two quarters how much they had been torching the Giants secondary.
He got some help from Tampa Bay placekicker Matt Gay, who missed a game-winning field goal and two extra points, one of which was blocked.
Mostly, though, Jones just put the Giants on his back and carried them to a victory.
He ignored the fact that Shaquil Barrett was embarrassing Nate Solder while being credited with four sacks and three quarterback hits. He ignored being hit 11 times and sacked five in all. He ignored fumbling twice.
He did what winning teams need their quarterbacks to do. When the game was on the line, Jones made the plays — with his arm and with his legs — that the Giants needed to win a football game.
“This is an awesome win, fun to be a part of,” Jones said.
He finished 23 of 36 for 336 yards with two touchdowns passing. He also had four carries for 28 yards and two more scores.
“I would probably take out two fumbles and then go from there,” Jones said in assessing his performance. “I don’t know, you never really know how it is going to go and that is the fun part, that is football. We found a way to win, we battled, and we found a way to finish it. That is what is the most exciting.”
. @Gil_Brandt on Daniel Jones: “I think this guy is just scratching the surface. He has everything you need to be a successful quarterback. Five years from now, people will say the Giants got a steal.”https://t.co/X0If2ve5xD— Bob Glauber (@BobGlauber) September 22, 2019
Firsts for Daniel Jones
First completion: First play, 18-yard crossing route to Evan Engram.
First third-and-long: A 26-yard completion to Sterling Shepard on third-and-11.
First drive: 11 plays, 57 yards, results in 36-yard Aldrick Rosas field goal. Joners goes 4-of-5 for 53 yards.
First scramble: 11-yard run for a first down on a third-and-5 with 14:23 left in the second quarter.
First touchdown: A 7-yard run with 10:06 left in the first half. It made the score 12-10 Buccaneers.
First turnover: Jones fumbled when sacked by Shaq Barrett with 2:22 left in the first half. That gave the Buccaneers the ball at the Giants 41-yard line.
First touchdown pass: Jones hit Evan Engram on a crossing route on the first play of the second half. Engram turned it into a 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown. A 2-point conversion pass to Sterling Shepard made the score 28-18 with 14:48 left in the third quarter.
First-come-from-behind victory: Jones’ 7-yard scramble with 1:16 left capped an incredible, unlikely comeback.