Giants had a chance to upset Buccaneers until Daniel Jones' mistakes gave the game away

Last season, in the middle of another lost year for the New York Giants, rookie quarterback Daniel Jones provided some hope.

He had a great preseason, a phenomenal first regular-season start against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and other exciting moments that indicated the Giants had their future quarterback. The boos on draft night when the Giants took Jones sixth overall seemed comical.

The only reason Jones isn’t hearing boos this season is because no fans are allowed in MetLife Stadium.

Jones has taken a step back, giving the Giants practically nothing to be excited about in a 1-7 season. New York put a scare into the Buccaneers on Monday night, and Jones put the Giants in position to tie the game with a two-point conversion in the final minute, but Jones’ throw to Dion Lewis on the conversion attempt was very late and knocked away by safety Antoine Winfield Jr. A pass interference penalty was picked up and the Buccaneers had a 25-23 win.

The Giants’ biggest storyline the rest of the season is whether Jones can show he’s back on track to be the team’s franchise quarterback. The answer doesn’t look good through eight games. Jones almost led the Giants to overtime against the Buccaneers, but his mistakes were a big reason New York lost.

Giants played Buccaneers tougher than expected

The Buccaneers were expected to roll to another win over a terrible Giants team. It was evident early on it wouldn’t be that easy.

For more than three quarters, the Giants defense mostly shut down Tom Brady and Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers couldn’t get anything on the ground. The Buccaneers tried some deep passes and couldn’t hit. None of the receivers were finding yards after the catch. The Giants took a lead late in the first quarter and other than about a six-minute stretch in the third quarter, it was New York that was out in front most of the game. When the Buccaneers seemed to take control of the game with a Rob Gronkowski touchdown in the third quarter, the Giants answered with a long drive and field goal to take back the lead. In the fourth quarter, the Giants moved the ball to Tampa Bay’s 34 looking to extend their 17-15 lead.

Then, Jones threw a terrible interception with a little more than 12 minutes left. Shaq Barrett pressured Jones and was close to dragging him down when Jones threw a wild pass. It was picked off by Sean Murphy-Bunting. Given the game situation, it was an inexcusable interception.

On the two-point conversion attempt at the end, Jones had Lewis wide open flaring out of the backfield. It is strange that he didn’t throw it right away, because clearly that was the read. Instead of hitting Lewis like he should have, Jones waited and threw it so late and behind Lewis, it allowed Winfield to make a play. Giants fans might complain that a pass interference penalty was picked up, but if Jones makes an easy throw the Giants tie the game. He didn’t.

Jones has seven touchdowns and nine interceptions this season. He threw two picks Monday night that led to 10 Buccaneers points. He has also failed to cross 200 yards passing four times this season, and didn’t get over the 200-yard mark until the Giants’ final drive Monday night. It’s not like he has a terrible set of receivers. He just hasn’t been very good.

Daniel Jones' rough second NFL season continued on Monday night. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Daniel Jones' rough second NFL season continued on Monday night. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Buccaneers dominate fourth quarter

Jones’ interception loomed large by the end of the game.

On the Bucs’ next possession, a third-down catch by Jaydon Mickens led to a 20-yard catch by Tyler Johnson. Cameron Brate had a 25-yard catch and a very questionable call on Giants cornerback Isaac Yiadom for initiating contact with his helmet, when it seemed Brate ran right into him, pushed the Bucs even closer to the end zone. Mike Evans made a great catch against stellar Giants cornerback James Bradberry in the end zone, and the Buccaneers led again. The pass also pushed Brady back ahead of Drew Brees for the all-time lead in career touchdown passes.

The Buccaneers forced a three-and-out after that. The Buccaneers got a field goal to take an 8-point lead.

The Giants did put together a big drive when it looked like the game might be over. A great play by Darius Slayton on fourth down, avoiding defenders after Jones found him under pressure, kept the Giants’ final drive alive. Jones hit Sterling Shepard on fourth-and-16 for another big conversion. Then with 28 seconds left, Jones hit Golden Tate for a touchdown on a very nice throw.

Then came the mistake on the late, inaccurate throw to Lewis on the two-point conversion. Jones still has a chance to develop. But Monday night wasn’t promising. This whole season hasn’t provided a lot of hope.

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