Giants at Buccaneers final score: Daniel Jones leads second-largest comeback by rookie QB in first NFL game
The Daniel Jones era begins with a win for New York in an NFC matchup against Tampa Bay
Daniel Jones led the New York Giants back from an 18-point halftime deficit during a 32-31 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3. Jones' 18-point comeback victory is the second-largest comeback victory by a rookie quarterback making his first start in NFL history. With the victory, the Giants improve to (1-2) while the Buccaneers dropped to (1-2) on the young 2019 regular season. Jones finished the game 23 of 36 for 336 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, and with zero interceptions. Jones also added 28 rushing yards on four carries -- this included two rushing touchdowns.
On the flip side, the Buccaneers finally found their stride on the offensive side of the ball. Jameis Winston had his best game of the 2019 season and showed signs of life in Bruce Arians' new offense. Winston finished the game 23 of 37 for 380 passing yards, three touchdowns, and with one interception. The Buccaneers drove into position for a game-winning field goal in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter before kicker Matt Gay missed a 34-yard chip shot field goal.
Let's dive right into the who, what, why, where, and how of the Giants' crazy comeback victory.
Why the Giants won
Jones was faced with just about as much adversity as you can find for a rookie quarterback making his first start. Let's recap. For starters, Jones was tasked with leading a comeback victory in a game the Giants trailed 28-10 at halftime. The Giants defense allowed five consecutive scoring drives to the start the game. Jones was also tasked with leading a comeback without the team's best offensive weapon -- reigning Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley who was lost in the second quarter to what has now been diagnosed as a high-ankle sprain. Jones also dealt with an ugly stretch of play from offensive tackles Nate Solder and Mike Remmers that resulted in four sacks from Buccaneers defensive end Shaq Barrett. Jones was knocked around, and he got back, stayed poised in the pocket, and delivered some unbelievable individual throws. When the Giants needed it most, on 4th and 5 from the 7-yard line, on the game-winning drive, Jones improvised and tucked the ball under for a 7-yard touchdown run. Jones was brilliant all day and the key reason the Giants came away with the victory.
Why the Buccaneers lost
Tampa Bay got too conservative in the second half of this game. With an 18-point lead at halftime, the Buccaneers leaned on the rushing attack with Peyton Barber despite the fact that Winston threw for three passing touchdowns in the first half. Fans will likely blame Gay for missing a 34-yard field goal, in addition to two extra-point attempts (one was blocked by Giants' first-round rookie Dexter Lawrence). Gay deserves some blame, but in the end, the Buccaneers shot themselves in the foot by playing it too safe rather than attacking the Giants' biggest weakness -- their secondary.
The Giants needed a spark in the second half to erase an 18-point deficit and they needed it fast. On the very first play of their first second-half possession, Jones connected with Engram and delivered a "runner's ball" to the tight end -- in stride and placed in a perfect position to make the most of it after the catch. This is exactly what Engram did. The third-year tight end has had his ups and downs with the Giants, mostly due to injuries, but no one can question his second and third gear. Engram ran a 4.41 40-yard dash and his breakaway ability is unmatched by any player at his position in the NFL.
Play of the Game
In a game that totaled 63 points and was ultimately decided by a missed field goal by the team trailing by just one point, every single point mattered. When the Giants were faced with a 3rd-and-goal in the second half, a missed connection would have likely resulted in a field goal try from Aldrick Rosas. This is exactly why it was so important for Jones to connect on a touchdown pass on this obvious passing down. In the preseason, Jones threw a perfect ball on a corner route to wide receiver Bennie Fowler for his first preseason touchdown. On this play, he dropped the football right in the bucket to wide receiver Sterling Shepard -- who had two Buccaneers defenders in coverage. The throw was so perfect it didn't matter.
The Giants have renewed life as they head back home for Jones' first career home start in a very winnable game against the winless Washington Redskins. The Giants will draw the Redskins on a short week as Washington closes out the Week 3 slate with a home Monday Night Football game against the Chicago Bears.
The Buccaneers are faced with a difficult task. They have to go on the road to play the reigning NFC East Champions -- the Los Angeles Rams.
In case you missed any of the action, you can recap it all on our live blog.
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