Saquon in­jured, but QB Jones shines in de­but

GIANTS 32, BUCS 31

The Morning Call - - FRONT PAGE - By Pat Leonard

GIANTS 32, BUC­CA­NEERS 31

The “Danny Dimes” nick­name might not work for Daniel Jones.

The Giants’ rookie quar­ter­back proved he’s worth a heck of a lot more in Sun­day’s de­but NFL start against the Buc­ca­neers, an in­cred­i­ble 32-31 come­back win at Ray­mond James Sta­dium.

With Saquon Barkley (an­kle) hob­bled and out the en­tire sec­ond half, and the Giants trail­ing 28-10 en­ter­ing the third quar­ter, Jones led a jaw-drop­ping and in­spir­ing come­back com­ple­mented by a re­silient Giants de­fense.

Jones threw the first two touch­down passes of his pro ca­reer to Evan En­gram and Ster­ling Shep­ard, added a two­point con­ver­sion to Shep­ard, and then led a game-win­ning drive with un­der two min­utes left while down, 31-25.

Jones com­pleted 5-of-7 passes on his defin­ing drive, capped by his sec­ond 7-yard rush­ing touch­down of the day — on fourth down, no less — to go up by one with 1:16 to play.

Vet­eran cor­ner Janoris Jenkins, who was picked on all day, sur­ren­dered a 44-yard pass to Mike Evans to set up a 34-yard Bucs field goal to win it. But kicker Matt Gay missed wide right, and the Giants cel­e­brated deliri­ously on the field.

The Giants (1-2) outscored the Bucs, 22-3, in the sec­ond half.

In all, Jones com­pleted 23-of-36 yards for 336 yards and four to­tal touch­downs, two pass­ing and two rush­ing. Jones’ first score 7-yard sec­ond quar­ter touch­down run on a read­op­tion fake to Barkley, a play call Pat Shur­mur couldn’t even use when Eli Man­ning was quar­ter­back.

He is the first Giants QB to score two rush­ing TDs since Jeff Hostetler in 1991.

Dave Get­tle­man’s cap, draft and free agent mis­man­age­ment have kept the Giants in the NFL’s base­ment. But if Jones is the real deal, the GM will have de­liv­ered for Big Blue’s long term at the sport’s most im­por­tant po­si­tion with a fran­chise QB.

Jones did lose two fum­bles, in­clud­ing a cru­cial one in the fourth quar­ter down 28-25, off­set­ting an in­ter­cep­tion by rookie line­backer Ryan Con­nelly. And then down 31-25 with six min­utes to play, Jones and the Giants of­fense went

three-and-out.

But he led them to vic­tory on his fi­nal drive when it mat­tered most. And frankly, his per­for­mance makes you won­der how des­per­ate Shur­mur was to start Jones in Week 1.

Jones’ of­fense scored more points (32) than Man­ning’s had in the first two weeks com­bined (31). He con­verted more third downs (6-of-13) than Man­ning had in the first two weeks com­bined (5-of-23).

The over­all take­away from Jones’ first start was that he wasn’t over­whelmed. It wasn’t too big for him. He took some big hits, made some mis­takes, even threw what should have been his first in­ter­cep­tion in the first half, which was dropped by a Bucs cor­ner.

And he gave the Giants some­thing they haven’t had in years: hope.

Barkley limped off winc­ing in sig­nif­i­cant pain with a sec­ond-quar­ter an­kle in­jury, and Dave Get­tle­man’s de­fense demon­strated no abil­ity to get a stop in the first half, with Jenkins picked on in­ces­santly by Bucs QB Jameis Win­ston and Evans.

Evans made eight catches for 190 yards and three touch­downs.

The Giants also played with­out line­backer Alec Ogle­tree (ham­string) the whole sec­ond half and backup LB Tae Davis (con­cus­sion) the fourth quar­ter.

De­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor James Bettcher made ex­cel­lent half­time ad­just­ments, how­ever, and af­ter the Bucs scored points on all six of their first half drives, Tampa scored just three in the sec­ond half and Win­ston threw an in­ter­cep­tion to rookie LB Ryan Con­nelly, the Giants’ first forced turnover of the year.

Jones then put the Bucs away for good, and now the Giants not only have hope that they can win in the fu­ture, but that they also can win now.

MICHAEL REAVES/GETTY

The Giants’ Saquon Barkley looks on from the bench af­ter suf­fer­ing an an­kle in­jury Sun­day against the Buc­ca­neers.

MIKE EHRMANN/GETTY

Daniel Jones (8) was the sixth over­all pick in last spring’s draft out of Duke and the sec­ond quar­ter­back taken.

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