When asked after the New York Giants’ 25-3 blowout victory over the Carolina Panthers about the last time he made a reception, much less a one-handed grab, Jones could not provide specifics.
“I don’t remember one,” he said. “Maybe high school.”
The grab, which happened at 4:54 in the third quarter on the Panthers’ 48-yard line, was also unlike anything many Giants fan could recall in recent memory from their quarterback. On a trick play, wide receiver Dante Pettis threw a pass to Jones on the sideline. Jones extended his right hand and grabbed the ball with one hand to complete a 16-yard play and advance to the Carolina 32-yard line.
The play instantly invoked memories of the Odell Beckham Jr. catch that happened back in 2015. But, according to Jones, no one has mentioned that grab to him.
For Jones and the Giants, this catch stands on its own.
After the game, Jones walked through what happened on the play - and critiqued himself.
“I think it was a good throw,” Jones said. “I don’t think the route was very good and I don’t think I was moving very fast. I’ve been on the other end of that, so I get mad at guys and I did the same thing there. I think it was a good throw and Dante’s thrown it well all week. He’s done a good job with it and just tried to execute it.
“It was a pretty unathletic route getting out there, so he put it out there for me and I just tried to pull it in.”
Pettis said that he was happy with the throw that he made to Jones.
“I thought that was a dime if he would have kept running,” Pettis joked. “He made a great catch, so I guess it worked out even better.”
On Jones’ route, Pettis had the following critique: “I haven’t seen it still, but I did think he slowed down a little bit and that’s a no-no.”
Though Jones was hit pretty hard after making the catch, Pettis said that he missed it because he was so excited.
“As soon as I saw him pull it in, I turned around and fist pumped,” Pettis said. “I was celebrating already. I didn’t even know he got hit like that honestly, so, sorry Daniel.”
The Giants had worked on the play during the week and Joe Judge said that Jones did not drop any passes in practice and even made one one-handed catch.
“He definitely had a lot of plays today in terms of showing his toughness,” Judge said of Jones. “I thought he did a heck of a job on that trick play we had with the catch. We weren’t really going for originality on that, but we thought it could be effective and he made it work. Him and Pettis did that. They actually had a play in practice that looked basically identical to that with the way that Dante threw it and how he had to catch, so it’s amazing how practice execution becomes game reality.”
When the play was actually called by offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, Jones said that he trusted in what him and Pettis practiced during the week. He said that he appreciated Garrett’s willingness to utilize his versatility.
“Yeah, I thought it was a really good plan going in and like I said, there’s several different things that we practiced throughout the week,” Jones said. “Understanding what that defense does well – their aggressiveness, their speed on defense and then planning according to that.”
Jones did a little of everything Sunday. He was 23 of 33 for 203 yards and one touchdown. He also ran for 28 yards on eight attempts and made a 16-yard reception.
“I don’t know how athletic people perceive me to be, but I just try to make plays when the opportunities are there,” Jones said.
Kicker Graham Gano, who converted three field goals in the game, said he was not surprised by Jones’ catch.
The guy’s an athlete,” Gano said. “One-handed – you called it a one-handed catch, right? It was awesome. Got to get a still shot of that and get it signed.”
Gano added that he did not hear Jones bragging about the coach at all afterwards.
“He’s an unbelievable athlete,” Gano said. “I’m sure you guys see it on all the long runs he breaks. I saw some stat last year that he had one of the highest speeds on a run by a quarterback. None of that surprises me. He comes to work every day and works his butt off, so none of his athleticism or his gifts, his God-given ability, surprises me.”
Pettis also showcased his dynamic skills on the field with the throw. He said that he may have thrown a couple of touchdown passes in college, but does not remember anything specific. He was not even sure the Giants coaches knew he could throw the ball before this week.
“I think they were just like, ‘Alright, let’s try him out,’” Pettis said.
Though Pettis comes from an athletic family (his dad Gary is the third base coach of the Houston Astros), Pettis said that he never played quarterback and that fellow receiver Kadarius Toney might have a better arm.
“KT has a way better – he can throw the ball way further,” Pettis said. “I think I’m a little more accurate. My spiral might be a little better. KT can throw the ball like 80 yards just standing there.”
For a team that has recorded just nine home wins since 2017, the victory was important for the franchise and for the fans. The Giants improved to 2-7 and will face the struggling Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football in Week 8.
“We’ve had some tough games and some close games, but we believe in who we are as a team, what we’re doing as a team and where we’re going,” Jones said. “We’ve just got to keep trusting that. Correct things that didn’t go well today and build off the things that went well. It’s a process and we understand that, and we certainly trust and have a lot of belief in what we’re doing.”