The New York Giants opened the Daniel Jones era with a victory Sunday, defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 32-31 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
This was Jones' first start after the team confirmed Tuesday he'd be replacing Eli Manning, likely signaling the end of Manning's 17-year run in New York at the end of the season. At the very least, Jones is guaranteed to remain in the role for Week 4 after guiding the Giants to their first win of 2019.
The former Duke star sealed the victory by engineering a 75-yard drive that culminated in his seven-yard touchdown run on 4th-and-5 with 1:16 remaining.
The Buccaneers were in a position to win the game, but Matt Gay pushed a 34-yard field-goal attempt to the right as time expired.
While Jones' performance is a reason for enthusiasm, the team announced Saquon Barkley suffered an ankle injury. Barkley came out of the tunnel in the second half wearing a boot on his right foot.
Notable Fantasy Stats
- Daniel Jones: 23-of-36, 336 yards, two touchdowns; four carries, 28 yards, two touchdowns
- Saquon Barkley: eight carries, 10 yards; four receptions, 27 yards
- Sterling Shepard: seven receptions, 100 yards, one touchdown
- Evan Engram: six receptions, 113 yards, one touchdown
- Jameis Winston: 23-of-37, 380 yards, three touchdowns, one interception
- Ronald Jones: 14 carries, 80 yards; one reception, 41 yards
- Mike Evans: eight receptions, 190 yards, three touchdowns
- O.J. Howard: three receptions, 66 yards
Daniel Jones Already Winning Over Skeptics with Late-Game Heroics
The Giants were generally met with confused glances when they selected Jones with the sixth overall pick in the 2019 draft. While New York's need for a long-term successor to Manning was obvious, many thought the team could have traded back and still landed its preferred quarterback.
In general, Jones exceeded expectations Sunday.
Manning was a prototypical pocket passer, never running for more than 80 yards in a single year. Jones may provide a new dimension to the Giants offense.
Next Gen Stats @NextGenStats
Daniel Jones reached 19.47 MPH on this 7-yard TD run. Jones is now responsible for two of the FASTEST speeds reached by a QB this season: Lamar Jackson: 19.78 MPH Kyler Murray: 19.72 MPH Daniel Jones: 19.51 MPH Daniel Jones: 19.47 MPH #NYGvsTB | @Giants https://t.co/MlnEVd7iGi
Evan Engram was already on pace to have a career year, ranking first on the team in targets (22) entering Sunday. Jones looked his way eight times, which allowed the third-year tight end to show off his hands and big-play ability.
Barkley's injury is bound to cast a shadow, however. A Pro Bowler in his first year, he had run for 227 yards and one touchdown in New York's first two games.
Between Barkley and Jones, Giants fans could at least count on seeing the future of the offense in what is otherwise shaping up as a lost season. Now, one-half of that equation could be out of action for the time being.
Buccaneers Offense Sputters to Finish Line in 2nd Half
Jameis Winston is auditioning for his next contract, be it with the Buccaneers or another team. The Giants, who allowed 642 passing yards in their losses to the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills, seemed to be the perfect tonic for Winston's nondescript start.
Heading into halftime, Winston was on pace for a monster day, throwing for 263 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.
New York had no answer for Mike Evans early on. The wide receiver was beating the Giants over the top and with shorter catches over the middle, and his three touchdowns were one short of tying the single-game franchise record, according to Pro Football Reference.
Evans only had 13 targets to open 2019, much to the consternation of fantasy football owners. The 2014 first-rounder showed Sunday he remains a dynamic pass-catcher, especially down the field.
The Buccaneers' blistering pace in the first two quarters will make their second-half slowdown all the more frustrating. Tampa Bay's offense ground to a halt, allowing the Giants back into the game.
Fittingly, the Bucs turned to Evans when they needed a big play. His 44-yard reception in the fourth quarter got the team to the Giants' 9-yard line.
Tampa Bay only has itself to blame for the loss based on how poorly it closed. It came away with three points on three trips inside New York's 40-yard line over the final two quarters.
The Giants return to division play in Week 4 when they host the Washington Redskins next Sunday. The Buccaneers hit the road to face off with the reigning NFC champions when they play the Los Angeles Rams.