The New York Giants aren't used to tremendous debuts from rookie quarterbacks making their first career start, which makes what Daniel Jones did Sunday even more remarkable. Jones is just the third quarterback the Giants have selected in the first round since the AFL-NFL merger, joining Phil Simms in 1979 and Eli Manning in 2004. If history repeats itself, Jones may have a better career than Simms and Manning. Jones, making his first career start in Week 3 of his rookie season, led the Giants to over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, running for the game-winning touchdown on 4th-and-5 with 1:21 left. Jones became the third quarterback over the past three seasons with a game-winning drive in his first career start, joining Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes. This was just milestones reached and records snapped by Jones in his NFL debut.
The Giants' 18-point comeback was their largest comeback win on the road since 1963 (Y.A. Tittle led the comeback against Johnny Unitas in Baltimore against the Colts). They were down 28-10 at halftime to the Buccaneers before Jones threw for two touchdowns and ran for the winning score in the second half. Jones earned his first career start far sooner than Simms in 1979 (Week 6) and Manning in 2004 (Week 11). While Simms also defeated the Buccaneers in his first start, he wasn't near as dominant as Jones. Manning didn't win his first career start against the Atlanta Falcons, which makes what Jones did for the Jones even more impressive.
It's important to note Simms and Manning both have Super Bowl titles and MVP awards for the Giants before we dive into the numbers. Here's how the three fared in their first career starts.
Phil Simms (1979)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Eli Manning (2004)
Daniel Jones (2019)
at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Simms had three carries for a yard. Sacks weren't counted in 1979 so that information is unavailable. Manning had one carry for minus-1 (-1) yards and was sacked once. Jones had four carries for 28 yards and two touchdowns while being sacked five times.
Manning threw 37 times in the loss and completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey in the third quarter. Trailing 14-10 with 1:52 left, Manning had an opportunity to win the game, but went 2-for-5 for 14 yards on the final drive and his last-gasp fourth-and-3 pass intended for Shockey incomplete.
Jones trailed Tampa 31-25 with 3:16 left before leading New York on an eight-play, 75-yard drive for the winning score. He went 5-for-7 for 68 yards on the winning drive, capping it with the seven-yard touchdown run, his second touchdown run of the day. Jones' 336 passing yards were the most by a rookie in a road win in his first career start since quarterback starts were first tracked in 1950. He's the only rookie since 1950 with 300 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in a game.
Not only did Jones have an impressive first start, he arguably had the greatest first start for a rookie in the history of the NFL. Simms and Manning have their place in Giants lore, but Jones is already on a head start toward surpassing them.
Of course, Jones has a long way to go.