daniel jones giants patriots
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

A beautiful touchdown pass followed an ugly interception. How did Daniel Jones (and others) perform against the Patriots?

The “dress rehearsal” preseason matchup finally arrived for the Giants.

After the coaching staff sat many of the starters during the first two exhibition games, the team’s ones played the first half of Sunday night’s game against New England.

Throughout the pair of quarters in which the starters were on the field, the Giants ousted the Patriots by a score of 7-6, with one scoring drive taking place out of Big Blue’s five total offensive possessions.

The second half subsequently comprised of backups and roster bubble guys for New York in what ended up being a 22 to 20 loss.

The Giants now turn to the roster-cutting portion of the NFL league year along with the regular season, which commences Sept. 12 against Denver.

But before we focus our attention on the 17-game slate, let’s discuss the performances of some players in the preseason finale.

QB Daniel Jones

All eyes were on the quarterback Sunday night.

Daniel Jones was to take his first snaps of the preseason after watching from the sideline the previous two games.

And just like his career has encompassed up to this point, there were ups and downs to his on-field play.

On a 3rd-&-goal play from the half-yard line in the second quarter, a poor play call led to Jones rolling out to the right, throwing behind the intended receiver (Evan Engram), and placing the ball in the grasp of Patriots cornerback D’Angelo Ross.

Yes, a turnover — the last thing fans wanted to see from a signal-caller who must limit them in a crucial 2021 season.

But positive occurrences followed.

On the Giants’ final offensive drive of the half, in the two-minute drill, Jones completed seven of eight passes for 54 yards. The possession concluded with a beautiful 23-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kaden Smith.

On that specific drive, Jones looked comfortable, was able to extend plays outside of the pocket, and made the big throw in the end.

To conclude the night, Jones was 17 for 22 with 135 yards, one touchdown, and one pick.

RB Gary Brightwell

Rookie sixth-round draft pick Gary Brightwell is fighting for a roster spot and a role behind running back Saquon Barkley (once he’s fully healthy and on the field).

Sunday night, he made a good case for why he’s deserving of a job.

Brightwell showed he’s capable of portraying skills in the pass-catching department. He assumed notable reps with the starters in the first half and it seems the coaching staff could be higher on him than Corey Clement.

If Brightwell does indeed make the team, expect the staff to provide him with special teams reps while he works as a situational reserve back.

The first-year player finished with a trio of receptions for 20 yards.

TE Kaden Smith

Everyone talks about Evan Engram and if he’ll fix the on-field mistakes in 2021.

Fans additionally like to bring up the presence of veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph, who could be a red-zone target for Jones and this offense.

But for a minute, let’s talk about Kaden Smith and what he could bring to the table.

The third-year tight end isn’t in East Rutherford just to run block — he can bring value to Jason Garrett’s passing game.

Smith caught two passes for 26 yards and was on the receiving end of the Jones touchdown pass late in the first half.

You could make the argument Smith is a roster bubble guy, but he shouldn’t be. Rudolph isn’t fully healthy yet following offseason foot surgery and Engram has had his fair share of injury-related issues (he was actually ruled out with a calf injury in the second quarter Sunday). The Giants need reinforcements at the tight end spot, and Smith could be the perfect fit.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.