EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Daniel Jones wasn't perfect, but he passed his first and only test of the preseason Sunday evening.
The Giants' starting quarterback played all five first-half series against New England in his first game action of the summer. And though the offense didn't put as many points on the board under his command as he would have liked, Jones was accurate (17 completions in 22 attempts for 135 yards), spread the ball around (eight different receivers caught his passes) and lofted a pinpoint throw to tight end Kaden Smith for the Giants' first touchdown. He also threw an interception in the end zone on a play that began at the one-yard line. In addition, Jones was sacked twice and absorbed several other hits from the Patriots' defense.
"I think I played alright," Jones said. "I thought we did a good job moving the ball and making some plays. I think, obviously, you've got to finish drives and finish with touchdowns. So overall, I thought we did alright moving the ball, but I gotta shore some things up."
"I thought he did a lot of positive things," coach Joe Judge said. "I have some things that we want to go ahead and make sure we improve on. For his first time in game action, right now in preseason, it's important for him to get out there with a lot of guys and get some chemistry going. Saw a lot of improvement throughout the last couple of weeks, the competitive practices, it would've been nice to get him on the field last week. I made my decision (not to play him last week) for the reason I did. I think it was the right decision for what we had to do going forward. Today was a good opportunity for him to get out there, had a lot of situational work, did some good things to build on."
Check out the best photos from the Giants' preseason finale against the New England Patriots.
Jones helped give the Giants a 7-6 halftime lead, but the reserves were outscored by three points in the second half and the result was a preseason-ending 22-20 loss to the Patriots in MetLife Stadium. The Giants completed their preseason with an 0-3 record.
Mike Glennon, who started the first two games, played the second half and threw touchdown passes of 12 yards to Alex Bachman and 43 yards to Damion Williams. But Glennon's pass to Dante Pettis fell incomplete on the potential game-tying two-point conversion try.
Jones and the offense have something to build on as they turn their attention to the regular season, which begins Sept. 12 at home against the Denver Broncos. His performance was even more impressive considering his supporting cast was missing several key components. Running back Saquon Barkley, wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney, and tight end Kyle Rudolph didn't play. Two more of his weapons, tight end Evam Engram (calf) and wideout Darius Slayton (ankle/foot) left the game early.
Jones' shining moment occurred late in the half. On third-and-two, his only rushing attempt gained four yards around right end and gave the Giants a first down at the New England 23. On the next play, Jones threw to the end zone for Smith, who caught the ball despite tight coverage from defensive back Adrian Colbert.
"That was perfect placement – over the safety," Smith said. "And I'm just happy I got to make a play on it."
Did Smith say anything to Colbert, who was his teammate on the Giants last year?
"No, no, no," Smith said, laughing. "I miss my guy. I talked to him a little bit this week at practice, but, no, I didn't get the chance."
Jones completed seven of eight passes on the nine-play, 58-yard touchdown drive.
Earlier in the quarter, Jones threw a pass he'd like to have back. On third-and-goal from the one, Jones threw behind Engram and the ball was intercepted in the end zone by cornerback D'Angelo Ross.
"Obviously, a bad decision there," Jones said. "I gotta be smarter and throw the ball away in that situation, third-and-goal at the one. So, I look at each play independently and learn something from each of them."
Jones was asked if Engram was supposed to stop when he found an opening in the coverage.
"No, he did a good job there and I've got to make a better decision," Jones said.
How would Jones assess his growth from the beginning of training camp through this game?
"I felt like it went pretty well," he said. "I think I've improved and made progress. Certainly, things I'll look to work on and continue to improve here going into Week One."
Except for brief appearances by four offensive linemen and Slayton in the opener vs. the Jets, the Giants' starters did not play in the first two preseason games. Against New England, left guard Shane Lemieux sat out and was replaced by Ted Larsen, and veteran Nate Solder started at right tackle for Matt Peart.
Sterling Shepard led the Giants with five receptions and Engram caught three passes in their first action of the summer. Eli Penny led the Giants with 35 rushing yards on four carries.
"I'm happy everyone got the chance to get out there and really get those first game nerves out of the way," Smith said. "But obviously, a lot of things to fix and we'll watch the film and get to fixing them."