There were certain things the Giants knew about Daniel Jones when they drafted him.
They knew he was tough. They knew he was competitive. Most importantly, they knew he was a winner. Sunday’s 32-31 comeback victory over the Buccaneers proved them right for at least one week as they hope many more will come.
Week 3 at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center began Tuesday with the news that the sixth overall draft pick would replace two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning. In his first NFL start, the successor totaled four touchdowns – two passing and two rushing – including a seven-yard run with 1:16 remaining in the fourth quarter. It gave the Giants their first lead of the game after they trailed at one time by 18 points.
IT WAS OVER WHEN: Matt Gay, not to be confused with Scott Norwood, missed wide right on a 34-yard field goal attempt as time expired. The potential game-winner was set up by a 44-yard reception by Mike Evans, who until then had no receptions in the second half after catching three touchdowns in the first 30 minutes.
SAQUON’S ANKLE: The Buccaneers, who allowed less than three yards per rushing attempt in the first two weeks, loaded up to stop Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley. They were successful and held him to 10 yards on eight carries. He sufferrd an ankle injury on a tackle by safety Mike Edwards late in the first half.
ENGRAM & SHEP PICK IT UP: With Barkley out and the Giants trailing by 18 points at halftime, things looked bleak. Then tight end Evan Engram took a short pass from Jones on the first play of the second half and turned it into a 75-yard touchdown. Jones connected with wide receiver Sterling Shepard on the two-point conversion, and the Giants quickly found themselves down by just 10 points with only 12 seconds off the clock. On their next possession, Jones hit Shepard for a seven-yard touchdown, and the deficit was cut to a field goal. By the end of the game, Engram and Shepard each had 100 yards.
HALFTIME ADJUSTMENTS: There are probably more, but Pat Shurmur hates two sayings in football. One is calling the third preseason game a “dress rehearsal.” The second is “halftime adjustments” because, in his mind, coaches are constantly adapting throughout the entire game. Call it whatever you want, but the defense adjusted something in the locker room. The Buccaneers scored on each of their six possessions in the first half, but only once in the second. Tampa had 16 first downs in the first half, but only eight in the second. In addition to their four sacks (two by Markus Golden), the Giants also forced their first turnover of the season on an interception by rookie linebacker Ryan Connelly, who took over play-calling duties in the huddle after Alec Ogletree left with a hamstring injury. The takeaway, too, came in the second half.
WHAT THE WIN MEANS FOR THE GIANTS: In the short term, it’s a win. And they’ve been hard to come by for the Giants. They improved to 1-2 and return to MetLife Stadium for back-to-back home games against Washington in Week 4 and Minnesota in Week 5. In the long term, the win kicked off a new era under center.
WHAT THE LOSS MEANS FOR THE BUCS: Tampa dropped to 1-2, the same record as every team in the NFC South with the exception of the 2-1 Saints. The Buccaneers were coming off a victory over Carolina last Thursday night and will now travel west to take on the Rams in Week 4.