Daniel Jones turns in statement performance as Giants roar back for OT win over Saints

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NEW ORLEANS — Jabrill Peppers celebrated his correct overtime coin toss call on Sunday as if he knew the Giants had already won.

“Boom!” Peppers bellowed when the coin landed heads up. “We want that motherf-----!”

Minutes later, Joe Judge and Giants vice president of security Jerry Meade were in a joyous sideline embrace as Saquon Barkley drove Saints defensive tackle Sky Tuttle into the end zone for New York’s first win of the season.

Barkley put one finger to his mouth, ripped his helmet off, and shouted the Saints’ disappointed fans up the aisles and out of the silent Superdome.

“You could hear a pin drop,” Kenny Golladay said after a dominant, 116-yard performance.

This is what it looks like, this is what it feels like, this is how a team acts when its quarterback is good enough to put his teammates on his back.

That’s what Daniel Jones did in Sunday’s 27-21 overtime comeback win over the Saints, throwing for a career high 402 yards and two TDs against a respected defense—and scoring 17 unanswered points in the game’s final 11 minutes and 58 seconds.

“Hopefully you guys are finally seeing it,” said Barkley, who racked up 88 of his 126 yards and both of his TDs in the fourth quarter and overtime. “Ever since the day he’s been drafted he’s been criticized. He’s a competitor and he showed he’s a special player. We knew he was a special player.”

Is this what a franchise quarterback looks like?

“That’s what it looked like over the first four games to me,” tight end Kyle Rudolph said with a smile as the Giants improved to 1-3.

Judge answered the question like he believes he shouldn’t be asked it anymore. Maybe he’s right.

“Daniel had a heck of a game,” Judge said. “I’m not gonna start making broad picture statements and headline type things. Daniel Jones is our quarterback. However you want to label that, you guys can put that in the paper.”

Jones’ offensive line held up impressively in pass protection, with Matt Skura as their fourth starting left guard in four weeks playing next to center Billy Price, who was acquired in an Aug. 30 trade from the Cincinnati Bengals.

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett overthought some play calls in the first half. The Giants had come out of their first two red zone trips with only three points courtesy of a Graham Gano field goal.

Jones had hit a 52-yard TD pass to John Ross in the receiver’s Giants’ debut, but Gano had missed another chip shot field goal.

Still, the Giants trailed 21-10 on two Taysom Hill touchdown runs and a Jameis Winston TD pass to Juwan Johnson—the fourth straight opponent to score on the Giants’ defense in the final two minutes of the first half.

James Bradberry made a third quarter interception to help hold the Saints at bay.

But then Jones delivered, elevating his play to another level, with Barkley and Golladay helping the Giants’ third-year quarterback take over the game.

“We needed a win,” Jones said. “And there was a high sense of urgency to do that.”

Jones’ numbers late in Sunday’s win were astounding. He completed 14-of-19 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter and overtime.

He spread the ball around. Four receivers had at least 77 receiving yards: Golladay, rookie Kadarius Toney (78), John Ross (77) and Barkley (74). Ross had the early touchdown and two catches for 25 yards on the game-winning drive.

The play that gave the Giants hope was Jones’ 54-yard TD pass to Barkley down the left sideline with 6:52 remaining in the fourth. Barkley said he had noticed earlier in the game that corner Marshon Lattimore was sitting an Evan Engram out route, so they planned to run it again in a big moment.

“Me and DJ had a conversation and just stayed ready for it,” Barkley said. “It’s kinda cool when you can see things before they happen. Me and him were on the same page.”

Golladay then made the other play of the game late in the fourth: a 28-yard catch and run, snagging the ball in tight coverage and breaking a tackle to get the Giants into field goal range to tie it.

“That’s all I can really ask for,” Golladay said of seeing the ball on that critical 3rd and 7 with the game on the line. “And on top of that, when my number is called, I want to be there to answer that bell to make that big play.”

Jones then set up Barkley’s game-winning touchdown run with a 23-yard strike to Golladay on an over route toward the left sideline.

That was his final throw in his second career comeback, and his first since his first ever start as a rookie in Week 3 of the 2019 season at Tampa Bay.

That’s how Jones blew the doors off his previous career high of 352 passing yards, in Week 16 of his rookie year under Pat Shurmur at Washington.

He also smashed his previous high in passing yards under Garrett, 279 in Week 1 of last season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Doing it once against the Saints won’t be enough, obviously, and Jones knows that. Next week brings a road trip to Dak Prescott and the first place Dallas Cowboys (3-1), who are threatening to run away with the NFC East early.

Still, Sunday was a statement, a potentially season-saving statement, and a landmark performance by the young Jones.

And it was a glimmer of hope that maybe he can elevate this Giants offense one day closer to the NFL’s top tier, in a league where seven teams were averaging 30 or more points per game entering Sunday. The Giants are now up to 20.75 on the year.

“We’ve shown glimpses of what we can be as an offense throughout the first four games, and we were more consistent with it today,” Jones said, before the team hurried to its busses for a quick flight out of town back to Newark. “We made a few more plays and we made plays when they counted. That’s the capability of this offense. We’ve got to keep doing it.”

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