Daniel Jones now has more in common with New York Giants legend Eli Manning than just a similar facial appearance. They are both elite quarterbacks, at least according to the current Giants roster. Jones became the first player in NFL history to have over 300 passing yards (301), two passing touchdowns, and more than 70 rushing yards (78) in a playoff game while leading the G-Men to a 31-24 upset victory against the third-seeded, 13-win Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. It was New York's first playoff victory since winning the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots to conclude the 2011 season.
Giants Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley, who has been Jones' teammate his entire NFL career, has now seen enough to claim that Jones is of the league's best.
"I know we have an elite quarterback," Barkley said postgame. "He's shown that multiple times."
Jones became the first Giants quarterback to win a playoff game since Eli Manning, who helped lead the charge to their 2011 Super Bowl XLVI title. In the midst of that year, questions about Manning's elite status subsided as he threw for nearly 5,000 yards before going on another postseason run. The most crucial stat from Sunday: Jones never gave the ball away, matching the efficiency of a regular season that saw him take care of the football at a better rate than any other quarterback in 2022.
The No. 6 overall draft pick in 2019, Jones spent the first three years of his NFL career sharing blame for one of the league's most consistently dysfunctional offenses, totaling 49 turnovers, tied for the third-most in the NFL from 2019-2021, in 37 games. Only Jared Goff (52) and Baker Mayfield (51) had more giveaways than Jones in that span. The new Giants braintrust that was imported from the Buffalo Bills -- general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll -- decided early that they would bet against the 25-year-old QB, declining to exercise a fifth-year option that would've guaranteed his contract through 2023. Fast forward to today, Jones has fixed the turnover flaw and come up in the clutch on the road in the playoffs, marching New York down the field for the go-ahead touchdown midway though the fourth quarter.
"It means a lot. Means a lot," Jones said after the win. "It's a big win for us and grateful to be a part of it."
"Played good," Daboll said nonchalantly after winning his first playoff game as a head coach when asked to describe Jones' play. After claiming his prose isn't as good as a writer's, the head coach showered more praise upon his quarterback. "Daniel, I've said it all year, he's been good for us. He continues to be good for us, and he played a good game. ... As the leader of our football team, I'm proud of him."
Jones started Sunday on fire, beginning 5-for-5 passing for 100 yards plus two carries for 22 yards in the first quarter alone as the Giants scored touchdowns on both of their first two possessions. He finished with the most rushing yards in a playoff game by a Giants quarterback, with 78 on 17 carries.
"I think there were definitely some nerves going into it," Jones said. "We were excited. There was a lot of anticipating going into it. Once we settled in and started playing, it felt the same. It was just about execution and doing our job play after play. I thought as a group we did that well."
With his dual-threat output, he joined Hall of Famer Steve Young and Lamar Jackson as the only quarterbacks to throw for 300 yards and rush for at least 75 in a playoff game.
"For this game we thought that was something we didn't do at all last game that we thought would be a little new wrinkle," Daboll said. "I mean, people have seen us do them, but we have a wide variety of them."
Daboll's wrinkles have played a significant role in Jones achieving new levels of performance, what his teammates now describe as elite. In order for Jones and the Giants to complete even a larger upset Saturday against the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles, they'll need him to continue his climb to looking more and more like his predecessor, two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning.