If you want to be embraced by Giants fans the way you were as a rookie, when you quieted the naysayers, upsetting Tom Brady on “Monday Night Football” would be the kind of signature moment that could have changed the fortunes of young Daniel Jones.
Except Jones blew it.
He made the mistakes he cannot stop making, mistakes that make you wonder whether he is who the Giants believed he was — The Next Eli Manning.
He made the mistakes that will cost him his dream job if he keeps on displaying a lack of pocket awareness and vision and poise and decision-making.
Just when Jones plugs the fumbling shut, the interceptions begin to leak.
From ESPN Stats & Info: Jones now has 12 games since the start of last season with multiple turnovers, three more than any other player in that span.
There were two on Monday night and some awful overthrows, and Bucs 25, Giants 23 was on him.
He was valiant at the end, but he could not overcome himself, or Tom Brady.
Jones had one last chance to right the wrongs and show you that, at least, he is a fighter who can get his nose bloodied and still get up.
His ball at his 30, 3:34 and zero timeouts left.
On fourth-and-5, under duress, he somehow found Darius Slayton for 12 yards.
Then, he scrambled out of bounds for 15 yards and a first down at the Brady 43 at the two-minute warning.
Fourth-and-16: Jones Sterling Shepard for 20 yards.
19-yard TD to Golden Tate.
0:28 on the clock.
Jones threw for Dion Lewis on the right side.
Threw too late, not where the pass needed to be.
The zebras huddled.
A flag was thrown.
Was there interference against Antoine Winfield Jr?
“There is no foul,” was the announcement.
Joe Judge was understandably livid.
There would be no last chance to tie it.
The killer: Slayton was gone. He was streaking down the left sideline, all alone, his left arm outstretched alerting Jones that he was wide open with nothing but the end zone ahead of him.
Jones never saw him.
Jones threw to his right, for Sterling Shepard, and had his arm hit and the ball intercepted by Carlton Davis.
And what should have been Giants 21, Bucs 6 became Giants 14, Bucs 9.
Big Blue DC Patrick Graham had been flustering Brady, gotten in his head, and the Giants defenders had been playing like junkyard dogs, and Brady trailed, 17-15.
But then Jones, in the grasp of Shaq Barrett, decided to try to make a play anyway.
And had it intercepted by Sean Murphy-Bunting.
It allowed Brady to show Jones how you are supposed to operate in the fourth quarter with a game on the line. Brady found Mike Evans with an 8-yard TD pass and then marched them into position for the field goal that demanded Jones morph into Manning at the end of Super Bowls XLII and XLVI.
Jones had twice missed Slayton deep in the first half, and the second time, it should have been a 30-yard TD.
That was in the first half.
And he had been sacked for a 10-yard loss out of field-goal range.
That was in the first half.
Shepard had put a double move on Jamel Dean, and Jones overthrew him as well.
That was in the third quarter.
It had looked so promising, Jones capitalizing on a Ronald Jones fumble forced by Blake Martinez and recovered at the Tampa 12 by Darnay Holmes with a 7-yard TD pass to a sliding Dion Lewis against LB Devin White; Jones directing a 10-play, 77-yard TD drive culminating with LT Andrew Thomas and LG Shane Lemieux dominating the point of attack for Wayne Gallman’s 2-yard TD plunge that made it 14-3.
Jones fought like hell at the end.
He made his own bed.
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