Over 18 plays and 87 yards there were so many good plays.
A 23-yard dart to Darius Slayton on third-and-14. A 13-yard completion off play action lofted tight end Levine Toilolo on a third-and-1. A 3-yard pass to Saquon Barkley on fourth-and-1, a play on which he seemed to wait forever before finding Barkley open across the field. A third-and-6 scramble on which he barely got enough for a drive-sustaining first down. A third-and-3 completion to Sterling Shepard for 5 yards and another first down.
Then, on the 19th play of what could have been a defining and was definitely a game-altering drive, New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones undid all that brilliant work.
On second down at the Pittsburgh 4-yard line Jones rolled left with an unblocked Bud Dupree in pursuit. With two acceptable choices — throw the ball away or simply take a sack — Jones took Option C. As he was being hit, Jones tried to loft the ball toward the end zone. Defensive tackle Cameron Heyward, who had retreated as he saw the play develop, had the ball fall into his grateful arms.
The Giants did not officially lose the game on that play. They were still behind by only six points. Realistically, though, that was their last best chance to put themselves into position for an upset victory.
Cameron Heyward's interception of Daniel Jones in the end zone stalls the #Giants offense late in the 3rd quarter.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 15, 2020
Bud Dupree forced his 7th turnover caused by pressure since the start of last season, most in the NFL in that span.#PITvsNYG | #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/sbhHshEo6V
“Obviously a play I’d like to have back,” Jones said. “That’s a costly mistake there after a long drive, so … you know, something I got to work on and improve on.”
It was one of two interceptions of Jones on the night. His first one had come with the Giants leading 10-3 in the second quarter. Whether Jones threw a quick pass intended for Evan Engram too low or edge rusher T.J. Watt just made a nice play to stop his rush and get into the passing lane is a matter for debate. Either way, the play left Pittsburgh with the ball on the Giants’ 36-yard line.
Six plays later, Ben Roethlisberger pulled the Steelers within 10-9 (they missed the extra point) with a 10-yard pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Yours truly gave Jones a ‘Kwillie’ for his night’s work. From his post-game comments, it sounds like Giants coach Joe Judge would likely agree with that assessment.
“I like the way he played aggressive. He stood in the pocket – it was obviously a strong rush coming at him all night – he played confident in there, he stood in there as long as he could, he delivered some good, accurate passes for us. He had two throws I know he wants back down at the goal line, that’s something we can’t have happen,” Judge said.
“That’s definitely something you can’t have, 19-play drive and come away with no points, especially down there in the low red. That’s not acceptable, but I’m proud of the way he played aggressive.”