Daniel Jones led a final drive in overtime that concluded with a Saquon Barkley touchdown and victory over New Orleans.
Eli Manning, throughout his 16-year career in East Rutherford, was known for his final drives to notch crucial victories.
And while his successor, Daniel Jones, doesn’t really have that reputation just yet, that’s exactly what he did Sunday.
The Giants, collectively, can now take a deep breath — they’re in the win column thanks to an incredible performance from Jones and a game-winning touchdown run from Saquon Barkley to defeat the Saints 27-21.
We won’t be dealing with a rough Monday where we have to discuss inefficient offense and head-scratching play calls from offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.
We won’t have to discuss a game-winning field goal from the opponent and the defense failing to step up in the final two minutes of the game.
Because on Sunday, while it wasn’t perfect, the Giants righted a lot of the wrongs that plagued them amid an 0-3 start.
Victory Monday is upon Big Blue for the first time since January of this year, when the team defeated the Cowboys in Week 17 of the 2020 campaign.
Not only did Daniel Jones lead a late-game drive that concluded with a game-tying 48-yard field goal from Graham Gano, but he additionally stepped up in the ever-crucial and ever-nerve-racking fifth period.
Following an upbeat (to say the least) reaction from Jabrill Peppers toward Big Blue winning the coin toss, Jones was 5-for-5 on a nine-play drive, hitting Barkley on an 18-yard screen play on 2nd-and-14 and then Kenny Golladay on a 23-yard pass that set the Giants up for the game-winning score.
The third-year quarterback looked like his predecessor and stepped up when it mattered: in the waning minutes of the ballgame.
The pressure didn’t get to him; the loud cheers of the Bourbon Street faithful didn’t phase him.
Like an experienced professional quarterback, Jones remained poised and continued his strong season, and ultimately helped the Giants notch their first win of the year.
Jones finished the day with a career-high 401 yards, one touchdown, and one interception on 28-of-40 passing.
He’s played great thus far in 2021, and is surely making a case for why he’s the long-term answer at the quarterback position in East Rutherford.
Big day on the receiving end
We heard all offseason the number of talented weapons Daniel Jones has at his disposal.
On Sunday, various individuals made their mark in the passing game and justified the multiple moves this front office made prior to the season.
Free-agent pickup and No. 1 receiver Kenny Golladay constructed his best performance as a Giant, catching six balls for 116 yards. First-round wideout Kadarius Toney, who was targeted just five times through the first three weeks, put together the strongest performance of his NFL career to date. The rookie caught six passes for 78 yards and put his eye-popping elusiveness on display numerous times.
Two other offensive weapons earned at least 70 yards through the air — John Ross (in his first active game as a Giant) caught three passes for 76 yards while Barkley reeled in five receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown. Ross fumbled on what was a 51-yard pass play in the first half but eventually fell on the ball in the end zone for his first touchdown in blue.
Defense bends but doesn’t break
The Giants defense hasn’t been as strong as it was last year.
It didn’t put together its best performance Sunday either, having allowed the Saints to gain 405 total yards. The unit also only racked up one tackle for loss and zero sacks.
But all in all, it kept Jameis Winston in check and made stops when it mattered.
Winston threw for 226 yards and one touchdown while Taysom Hill threw for just nine yards and an interception, which James Bradberry recorded.
The Giants also forced a punt late in the fourth quarter, which eventually set them up for their game-tying drive toward the end of regulation.
The pass rush needs to figure things out and Patrick Graham needs to pressure the quarterback more often. The unit also still has issues late in halves and allowed a touchdown in the final minute of the second quarter.
But at the end of the day, the 11-man group let up only 21 points and played a crucial role in New York’s inaugural victory of the 2021 season.
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY