So rookie Daniel Jones passed his first test, rallying the New York Giants from an 18-point halftime deficit to an improbable last-minute victory -- or, in other words, doing what Eli could not the past two weeks.
He threw for touchdowns. He ran for touchdowns. He didn’t commit fatal mistakes. And he showed rare poise for a quarterback making his first NFL start.
He was, as the New York Post proclaimed in its front-page headline, "Dan-O-Mite!"
But Jones wasn’t the Giants’ biggest winner Sunday. GM Dave Gettleman was. Because it was Gettleman who was the target of critics and cynics who lobbed grenades when he made Jones – a quarterback with a 17-19 record at Duke – the sixth pick of this year’s NFL draft. It was a gutsy and unexpected move, and it was dissected by everyone inside and out the 212 area code.
“Blows my mind,” said Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield, who later walked back his comments.
But others weren't as contrite. Gettleman haters piled on, wondering why the Giants passed on pass rusher Josh Allen or quarterback Dwayne Haskins … just as they wondered why they passed on Sam Darnold in 2018 in favor of Saquon Barkley.
“The Giants, in a word, have become sad,” said WFAN’s Mike Francesa, shredding Gettleman for the choice. “What I have come away with is that they don’t have a plan. They got a guy who’s going to stand there with a clipboard next year.”
Apparently not. What they got is someone who, at least for the moment, breathed life into a club that had no pulse. Jones not only picked up an offense that was somnambulant under Eli but picked up the defense, too, with the Giants surrendering no second-half touchdowns.
And he did it the hard way … with premier running back Saquon Barkley out with a sprained ankle.
Nevertheless, he did it … and that’s the biggest takeaway here. With the pressure of succeeding the Giants’ most popular player, Jones offered a glimpse into the future … and you know what? It just may be that he IS the quarterback Gettleman envisioned when he chose him.
All I know is that Daniel Jones could not have made Dave Gettleman look better. He not only won; he was part of four Giants’ scores and became the first Big Blue quarterback to throw for two TDs and run for two more in the same game.
Of course, he did more than that. He gave us a reason to watch a team that, frankly, too often has been unwatchable lately. And that, Mike Francesa, was the plan.
SUNDAY SCHOOL: FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED
1. Let’s face it, the AFC comes down to two teams -- New England and Kansas City. Nobody else. So let’s just cut to the chase, and go to the Dec. 8th game between the two in Foxboro to decide home-field advantage for the playoffs. The early advantage goes to the Pats, not only because they’re home and have Tom Brady but because they have a defense that neither bends nor breaks … and the envelope, please. In three games this season, the Pats haven’t allowed a touchdown on defense. Not one. Yeah, OK, so the Jets put up two TDs Sunday. One was via a muffed punt return and the other an interception return of rookie Jarrett Stidham. And that’s it. But wait. There’s more. New England hasn’t allowed a first-half point all season, and that’s not just unusual; it’s extraordinary, the first time since 1962 that’s happened with anyone through the first three games.
2. Baltimore needs better two-point conversions. The Ravens tried three Sunday. They all failed. Coach John Harbaugh insists he won’t second-guess himself, saying the calls were “clear analytical decisions.” Except the results weren’t so clear.
3. Maybe change isn’t good after all. Rookie head coaches are a collective 4-16-1, including five (the Jets’ Adam Gase, Denver’s Vic Fangio, Cincinnati’s Zac Taylor, Miami’s Brian Flores and Arizona’s Kliff Kingsbury) who haven’t won once.
4. No Drew Brees, no problem for New Orleans. With Brees sidelined an estimated six weeks, the Saints were supposed to concede the NFC South to someone, anyone … maybe Atlanta. But that was before they went into Seattle with backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and did what no visiting team in the Pete Carroll era has done: Beat the Seahawks at home in September. They were 15-0. Not anymore. So now the question: Just how good is New Orleans? We find out next Sunday when Dallas comes to town.
5. When Denver hired Vic Fangio as its head coach, the Broncos hoped to turn back the clock to 2015 with a defense that creates turnovers and a solid running game. Good idea, except for one thing: This defense doesn’t create turnovers. In fact, it doesn’t create anything. No sacks, no interceptions, no fumble recoveries, no nothing. And that’s a problem for their offense because at this stage of his career Joe Flacco isn’t wired to catch opponents from behind. Result: The Broncos are 0-3 and destined to miss the playoffs. Again. Remember, they’re in the AFC West where the only question is who finishes last: Denver or the Raiders.
MY TOP FIVE
1. New England … Antonio Brown, have a nice life.
2. Kansas City … Better than the ribs at Bryant's.
3. Dallas … 10-1 over last 11 regular-season games.
4. L.A. Rams … More home-run hitters than Dodgers.
5. Green Bay ... This is what happens when you play defense.
MY BOTTOM FIVE
32. Miami … Is Derek Jeter in charge of player personnel?
31. N.Y. Jets … Run for cover. It’s the Adam Bomb.
30. Denver … Say it ain’t so, Joe.
29. Cincinnati … Get Out of Jail card? Pittsburgh’s next.
28. Pittsburgh … Five takeaways yet still lose.
STAT THAT MAY INTEREST ONLY ME
Kansas City has scored 24 or more points in an NFL-record 26 consecutive regular-season games.
AND ONE MORE THAT MAY INTEREST YOU
San Francisco is plus-42 in point differential, which is first among teams that haven't played Miami and fourth overall.
1. Cleveland coach Freddie Kitchens says "it takes to develop offensively," but it doesn't take time to find OBJ when you're down 7 and at your opponent's 4. Yet the Browns never took a shot at him in the final minute Sunday night. Why?
2. One suggestion if/when the NFL gets serious about investigating the Antonio Brown situation: Hire TMZ to lead the inquiry.
3. When Saquon Barkley is on crutches, with his right foot in a boot, you know his injury is serious. But when he tells reporters, "I'm not out for the season," you know it's more than that. It's trouble. Early reports have it as a high ankle sprain, which could mean two months … and good luck, Daniel Jones. You just lost your best playmaker.
4. Lots of people – including Patriots’ fans – aren't happy with New England coach Bill Belichick: Reason: Money. They just lost it. Belichick’s decision to bench Tom Brady in favor of rookie Jarrett Stidham cost everyone who bet New England at plus-22. At 30-0, they looked golden. Then the Jets turned two takeaways -- the second a Stidham interception -- into touchdowns, and … poof!… say goodbye to Monday's payday.
5. Look, kicker Matt Gay should make that 34-yard field goal in Tampa, ok? But why in the world did Bruce take a delay-of-game penalty when he had the ball at the Giants’ 8 with one timeout left? I know, he said he did it “on purpose” to back up Gay who had missed an extra point and had another blocked. Excuse me but … huh? Guess that's why he's not the Kicker Whisperer.
6. Best thing about being the 2019 New England Patriots: They have five byes, one on Nov. 10 and the other four when they play Miami and the Jets.
7. When you wonder why the 49ers are 3-0, consider this: They had two interceptions all of last season. They have five already this year, second only to New England (6).
8. The Miami Dolphins aren't just 0-3; they're not competitive, outscored 133-16 so far this season. So tell me: Why should anyone in Miami pay to see a team built to tank?
9. Maybe we should pay more attention to Buffalo’s defense. It didn’t allow a first-quarter passing yard last week, and it didn’t allow a first-quarter passing yard Sunday.
10. When the Cowboys traded for wide receiver Amari Cooper, they didn’t blink at the price: A first-round draft pick. Now we know why. In 14 games with Dallas, Cooper has 82 catches for 1,134 yards and 11 TDs. The Cowboys are 11-3 in those games.
11. I don’t know, maybe the Eagles need a first-half wake-up call. Not only have they trailed in the first halves of all three games this season but they’re outscored 40-23. Now they go to Green Bay where the Pack hasn’t lost on Thursday night, and let’s just say it’s not too soon to start worrying about where this season is headed.
12. One more on the Eagles: Where’s the pass rush? They have two sacks through the first three starts – one by a safety and the other by a defensive tackle.
13. I don’t know how good the Lions are, either, but I do know we won’t have long to find out. They play Kansas City next weekend.
14. Mecole Hardman = Tyreek Hill, sans Samonsite.
15. Since winning Super Bowl XXXVII with Tampa, Jon Gruden is 50-65, including 5-18 over his last 23 games. Just lose, baby.
16. OK, so the Chargers are a disappointing 1-2. But look what’s next. Nothing, that’s what. Their next three games, in order, are vs. Miami, Denver and Pittsburgh – a collective 0-9.
17. Baker Mayfield told NBC's Mike Tirico "I'm not going to apologize for being me." But after what he's done this season … or, more accurately, what he hasn't … he might have to.
18. More proof that it’s never been easier to play quarterback: Jacoby Brissett completed his first 16 passes, tying Peyton Manning for the fifth-best streak in franchise history. Jacoby Brissett.
19. The more I see of Frank Reich, the more I’m convinced the Colts lucked out when Josh McDaniels stiffed them.
20. The last time Buffalo was 3-0 was 2011, and that’s good. This isn’t: The Bills went 6-10 that season, losing eight of their last nine. Of course, that was then, and this is now, and now … well, now they meet New England next week in what quarterback Josh Allen calls "a tall task." That's one way of putting it. Another is: A slam dunk. New England has won its last seven in Buffalo and 14 of the past 15.
GOLD JACKET FOR A DAY
CAROLINA QB KYLE ALLEN. It was his second start ever … and it was in Arizona, where the Cards are tough on everyone. So what happens? He throws four TD passes and does what Cam Newton could not in his last eight starts: Win.
GOLD JACKET QUOTE
“Right now we’re 0-3, living in a world of suck.” – Denver WR Emmanuel Sanders
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