LANDOVER, Md. — The game was over. The Giants had won. Dustin Hopkins had missed a 48-yard field goal wide right at the end and Daniel Jones and the euphoric Giants rushed off their sideline to celebrate.
Except Dexter Lawrence had lined up offside.
When Hopkins nailed the 43-yard field goal as time expired, the Washington Football Team, the 30-29 winner, rushed the field for the only celebration that mattered.
“I’m not gonna put this on Dexter Lawrence,” Joe Judge said.
He could put it on just about everyone except Daniel Jones.
Jones had lofted a rainbow high and far, and the ball and the ballgame appeared destined to drop into the hands of Darius Slayton in the end zone. And Darius Slayton dropped the ball.
The scoreboard clock showed 6:18 remaining. It should have been Giants 30, Washington Football Team 20. It would be Giants 26, Washington Football Team 20 instead. It took Taylor Heinicke two passes — first one 56 yards, second one 19 yards — to make it WFT 27, Giants 26.
Jones had been heroic with his legs in the first half (9-95, 1 TD overall) and heroic with his arm in the second half (23 of 32, 249 yards, 1 TD overall).
“Everything you could ask of him he did tonight,” Sterling Shepard said.
Now he needed to be heroic again.
Get Graham Gano into field-goal range and save the night. He couldn’t do it. Couldn’t make the kind of championship drive that champions make. But just because his defense didn’t have his back didn’t mean the football gods couldn’t try to help. And James Bradberry darted in front of Terry McLaurin to intercept Taylor Heinicke at the WFT 20. Then the Giants went into a conservative shell.
Gano’s 35-yard field goal, his fifth of the night, with two minutes left should have made Jones and the Giants 29-27 winners. The Bad News Giants are 0-2 on merit.
Jones had so much to overcome:
The loss of captain Nick Gates in the first quarter to a gruesome lower leg fracture which further debilitated Jones’ ghastly offensive line.
His own defense, which has gone backwards under Patrick Graham and was letting Heinicke have his way.
He had gashed the Washington Football Team with his legs — Danny Wheels on this night, or Danny Lightning Bolt, or Crazy Legs Jones — and hadn’t lost a fumble, hadn’t been intercepted, and so he had managed to keep the Giants in the fight.
And then it was time for Danny Dimes.
He stood tall in the pocket. He delivered accurate passes. He was a battlefield commander. He refused to blink. It was the third quarter when Jones had finally tried a deep shot towards the right sideline but Kenny Golladay reached out for it with one hand when two would have been advisable, and it fell incomplete.
Then he tried another one down the left sideline and this time he hit Slayton, who had beaten William Jackson III off the line, perfectly in stride for the 33-yard TD that made it NYG 20, WFT 14.
The referendum on Daniel Jones won’t be passed today, or tomorrow. He got off the canvas and Put Up in his Put Up or Shut Up Year 3. The year when he has no excuses not to get his team in the end zone and win games.
The Giants didn’t necessarily draft Jones sixth overall to be a gunslinger, even though he showed flashes of one as a rookie. They are asking him to be a point guard who can distribute the ball efficiently to the open man.
He did that on Thursday night. And more. And didn’t deserve Golladay shouting at him on the sideline.
“Me and Kenny have a great relationship,” Jones said. “I appreciate his passion and emotion.”
They cleared the air afterwards in the gut-punched locker room.
Jones had steamed down the left sideline on a read-option keeper in the second quarter, then he cut inside a block by C.J. Board to streak into the end zone with what would have been a 58-yard TD run. It was a 46-yard run because Board had been called for holding Jackson III.
The scoreboard clock was showing 5:52 left in the first quarter when one of the three Giants’ offensive captains crumpled to the ground and was carted off with a lower leg fracture. The entire Giants sideline after several minutes walked onto the field to console and hug their brother Gates.
Barkley’s 41-yard deja vu burst through a huge hole on the right side of the line positioned the Giants for a field goal … but Jones was sacked out of field-goal range on third down.
Jones, behind his reconfigured offensive line that saw new center Billy Price move Gates over to left guard, had showed you all the moves on his opening possession: three completions and three runs, one a read option for 15 yards, one a QB draw for a 6-yard TD.
“The great thing about playing in our city,” Judge said, “is the fact that [fans] ride high and low every week with you.”
They are riding as low as you can ride today.Da