Sunday's NFL: Daniel Jones rallies Giants from 18-point deficit in first start
Tampa, Fla. — Daniel Jones is making the decision to bench Eli Manning look like a good one.
At least through one game.
The sixth overall pick in this year’s NFL draft threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for two TDs, including the go-ahead score with 1:16 remaining as the New York Giants rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 32-31, on Sunday.
“There’s certain things that I knew about this kid when we drafted him. He was tough, he was competitive, and in my opinion he’s a winner,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. “Now the rest of it is just quarterback stuff. But those first three things give him a chance to move forward.”
Jameis Winston threw for 380 yards and put the Bucs (1-2) in position to pull out a dramatic win, but rookie Matt Gay’s 34-yard field goal sailed wide right as time expired.
Jones scored on a 7-yard run in the second quarter and put the Giants ahead with another 7-yarder on fourth-and-goal. The rookie began New York’s comeback with a 75-yard TD pass to Evan Engram on the first play of the second half, and a 7-yarder to Sterling Shepard midway through the third quarter.
“He plays with so much poise. You really can’t tell he’s a rookie,” Shepard said. “I’ve heard a lot of stuff about rookies in their first game and how it doesn’t turn out too well. I don’t think that’s the case with him.”
Winston threw TD passes of 21, 3 and 20 yards to Mike Evans to help Tampa Bay build a 28-10 halftime lead. His 44-yard completion to the 6-foot-5, 231-pound receiver set up the last-second field goal try by Gay, who also missed an extra point and had another blocked.
The Bucs took a delay-of-game penalty, which coach Bruce Arians said was deliberate, then moved the ball to the center of the field as Winston ran and took a knee for a 2-yard loss back to the Giants 16.
Gay began the day by missing an extra point, then had his next attempt blocked. He made field goals of 47, 27, 52 and 23 yards before lining up for the possible winner.
“That field goal is easier back 5 yards. No sense hurrying,” Arians said.
“I was super confident going on the field. I felt really good about it,” Gay, a sixth-round draft pick, said. “I’ve got to make that every single time.”
Jones, making his first NFL start in place of benched two-time Super Bowl MVP Manning, completed 23 of 36 passes with no interceptions. With Saquon Barkley exiting with a right ankle injury late in the first half, Jones also led the Giants with 28 yards rushing on four attempts.
As impressive as the former Duke standout was, he was not perfect. Shaquil Barrett had four of Tampa Bay’s five sacks and forced a fumble that led to a field goal that put Tampa Bay up 31-25 with six minutes to go.
Jones also lost a fumble that led to one of Winston’s TD passes to Evans, who finished with eight catches for 190 yards.
“You never really know how it’s going to go. That’s the fun part. That’s football,” Jones said. “We found a way to win, found a way to finish it. That’s what’s most exciting.”
Engram’s long catch and run was the highlight of a six-reception, 113-yard performance. Shepard, back in the lineup after missing the previous game with a concussion, had seven catches for 100 yards, including a 36-yarder that set up the winning touchdown.
Jones played one series in New York’s season-opening loss to Dallas. Manning replaced Kurt Warner after the ninth game of his rookie season in 2004 and started 232 of New York’s next 233 regular-season games. The Giants averaged 420 yards on offense in the first two games this year, but only scored four touchdowns while averaging 15.5 points.
The 38-year-old Manning was Jones’ backup, but did not accompany New York’s other captains to midfield for the pregame coin toss.
And what did the franchise’s all-time leading passer have to say to him afterward?
“Just congratulations and just happy for me,” Jones said. “I can’t thank him enough.”
L.A. Rams 20, (at) Cleveland 13: Cooper Kupp’s comeback is complete. The Rams have another weapon.
The shifty wide receiver caught two touchdown passes from Jared Goff and Los Angeles stopped Baker Mayfield four times from the 4-yard line in the final minute as the Rams hung on over the short-handed Browns, who were missing their entire starting secondary.
The Rams (3-0) remained unbeaten — and perfect against AFC teams in the regular season under coach Sean McVay — by barely holding back the Browns (1-2).
On the Browns’ final drive, Mayfield, who was under pressure most of the night, tried to force a pass to receiver Damion Ratley on fourth down. Safety John Johnson III picked him off.
New Orleans 33, (at) Seattle 27: Teddy Bridgewater threw two touchdown passes in his first start in place of Drew Brees, New Orleans also scored TDs on defense and special teams.
With Brees out for several weeks following surgery to repair a ligament near his right thumb, the Saints (2-1) pulled off a stunner by taking advantage of Seattle’s sloppiness, handing the Seahawks their first home loss in the month of September under Pete Carroll.
Seattle (2-1) had been 15-0 at home in September since 2010. The first loss will sting.
Bridgewater threw for a 29-yard touchdown to Alvin Kamara late in the first half on a screen pass where he bounced off several tacklers. He added a 1-yard TD toss to Michael Thomas on fourth-and-goal on the first possession of the second half, a drive kept alive by an illegal formation penalty against Seattle on a missed field goal attempt.
But the key for New Orleans was a pair of first-half touchdowns with Bridgewater standing on the sideline.
Deonte Harris took a punt back 53 yards for a score in the first quarter, and Vonn Bell picked up Chris Carson’s third lost fumble in three games, and returned it 33 yards for a TD in the second quarter.
(At) San Francisco 24, Pittsburgh 20: Jimmy Garoppolo threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Dante Pettis with 1:15 remaining and the 49ers overcame five turnovers for their first 3-0 start in 21 years.
The Niners gave the ball away four times in the first half and then lost a fumble again in the fourth quarter, but still managed to pull out the victory and spoil Mason Rudolph’s first career start in place of the injured Ben Roethlisberger for the Steelers (0-3).
Rudolph threw two long touchdown passes in the second half, connecting on a 76-yarder to JuJu Smith-Schuster and a 39-yarder to Diontae Johnson that gave the Steelers a 20-17 lead in the fourth quarter.
The Niners answered the first strike with a 75-yard touchdown drive capped by a 4-yard run by Jeff Wilson Jr., and appeared poised to do the same when they drove inside the 10 following the second score. But on third down from the 7, a shotgun snap hit receiver Richie James Jr. as he went in motion and T.J. Watt recovered the fumble for Pittsburgh on San Francisco’s third red-zone turnover of the game.
The Steelers then gave it right back when James Conner was stripped by Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner recovered at the 24. After a third-down holding penalty on Mark Barron extended the drive, Garoppolo found Pettis for the go-ahead score.
Houston 27, (at) L.A. Chargers 20: Deshaun Watson threw for 351 yards and hit Jordan Akins with two of his three touchdown passes, and J.J. Watt had two of the Texans’ five sacks of Philip Rivers.
Akins made the first two TD catches of his career and fellow tight end Darren Fells also caught a TD pass for the Texans (2-1), who rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit with 20 consecutive points on the way to their franchise’s second-ever win over the Chargers (1-2).
Keenan Allen caught 13 passes for a career-high 183 yards and two touchdowns from Rivers, who passed for 318 yards in the Bolts’ second straight loss.
The Chargers have a losing record after three games for the fifth consecutive season. Los Angeles also started 1-2 last season before reeling off six straight wins during an 11-2 finish.
Houston went up 27-17 with 9:40 to play on a typically magical effort by Watson, whose escape abilities usually kept him one step ahead of the Chargers’ tough pass rush. The quarterback barely eluded a sack by Melvin Ingram and converted a broken play, hitting Akins for a 53-yard catch-and-run TD.
The Chargers trimmed the lead to seven points and then drove into Houston territory in the final minute, converting two fourth downs along the way. But a completion that would have put the Chargers inside the Houston 10 was wiped out by a holding penalty on left tackle Trent Scott with 24 seconds to play, and Rivers threw two final incompletions.
Carolina 38, (at) Arizona 20: Kyle Allen threw for 261 yards and four touchdowns in place of the injured Cam Newton, and Christian McCaffrey ran for a 76-yard touchdown.
The 23-year-old Allen was outstanding in his second career start, making several big throws — even when there was tight coverage. He was 19 of 26, including two touchdowns to Greg Olsen and one each to Curtis Samuel and DJ Moore.
McCaffrey had 24 carries for 153 yards, including the 76-yard score, which came in the third quarter when he darted straight through the middle of Arizona’s defense.
Newton was ruled out by the Panthers earlier this week because of a mid-foot sprain. The Panthers (1-2) were confident Allen would be an adequate replacement and Sunday’s performance was validation.
Allen outplayed Arizona’s Kyler Murray, who was his former college teammate at Texas A&M. Murray also had some good moments, especially early, including a few long runs and a couple of short touchdown passes to Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson for the Cardinals (0-2-1).
(At) Dallas 31, Miami 6: Dak Prescott threw two touchdown passes to Amari Cooper before running for another score, and the Cowboys pulled out of a first-half funk as huge favorites.
One of Prescott’s TD tosses to Cooper came before halftime, but the Dolphins had a great chance to lead at the break as 22-point underdogs. Kenyan Drake fumbled on first down from the Dallas 7-yard line in the final minute of the second quarter. DeMarcus Lawrence recovered to preserve a 10-6 lead.
Josh Rosen was 18 of 29 for 200 yards without a touchdown or interception in his first start for Miami, which went with him over Ryan Fitzpatrick after getting outscored 102-10. No team since 1961 had a worse point differential through two games.
The rebuilding Dolphins are 0-3 for the first time since losing their first seven in 2011. They have been outscored 133-16, the largest point differential through three games in league history since 1950.
Prescott fueled the first Dallas team in 41 years to win its first two games while rolling up at least 400 yards and at least 30 points each time. And while the Cowboys reached 3-0 for the first time since 2008, it took them awhile to find that offensive form.
Ezekiel Elliott had his second straight 100-yard game after missing the entire preseason holding out for the $90 million extension he signed the day of the first full workout before the regular season. Rookie Tony Pollard had his first 100-yard day (103), clinching it on a 16-yard run for his first touchdown.
(At) Green Bay 27, Denver 16: Aaron Rodgers threw for 235 yards and a touchdown, Aaron Jones tied a career high by running for two scores and Preston Smith matched a career high with three sacks. Green Bay got to Joe Flacco six times and forced three turnovers to lead the Packers (3-0) to the win despite being dominated in time of possession 35:34-24:26.
Rodgers found Marquez Valdes-Scantling on a 40-yard strike on the opening drive and finished 17 of 29. Jones’ touchdown runs came from 1 yard and 7 yards.
Flacco was 20 of 29 for 213 yards with an interception and no touchdowns. For the third straight game, Von Miller, Bradley Chubb and Denver’s defense failed to get a sack or force a turnover. The Broncos (0-3) fell to 0-6-1 on the road against the Packers.
(At) Buffalo 21, Cincinnati 17: Frank Gore scored on a 1-yard run with 1:50 remaining in rallying the Bills. Tight end Dawson Knox set up the score by bowling over two Bengals for a 49-yard gain. And cornerback Tre’Davious White sealed the win by intercepting Andy Dalton’s tipped pass on third-and-5 from Buffalo’s 28 with 12 seconds remaining.
The Bills squandered a 14-0 lead and were forced to rally back after the Bengals scored 17 points to take the lead on three consecutive possessions.
Buffalo improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2011 and only third time in 26 years. The Bengals fell to 0-3.
Frank Gore also scored on a 1-yard run and finished 76 yards rushing.
Bills starter Josh Allen finished 23 of 36 for 243 yards with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Knox and a costly interception, which set up the Bengals’ first touchdown. Allen was nearly picked off two more times and almost lost a fumble before being ruled he was out of bounds.
Buffalo’s defense came to the rescue after appearing winded on a hot afternoon with temperatures in the 80s. The Bills forced four turnovers, with White finishing with two interceptions.
(At) Indianapolis 27, Atlanta 24: Jacoby Brissett threw two touchdown passes in the first half and Marlon Mack scored on a 4-yard run in the fourth quarter. Indianapolis (2-1) has won two straight overall and seven in a row at home.
The Falcons (1-2) rallied from a 20-3 halftime deficit to get within three on Matt Ryan’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones with 4:11 to play. But the Falcons opted to kick deep and never got the ball back.
Brissett closed it out with an 11-yard pass to Jack Doyle on third-and-4. He finished 28 of 37 with 310 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. T.Y. Hilton caught eight passes for 65 yards and a touchdown in the first half, but missed the second half after aggravating a quad injury that slowed him in practice this week.
Ryan was 29 of 34 with 340 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He passed John Elway for ninth on the league’s career completion list and broke a tie with Elway for No. 11 on the career TD passes list. Ryan now has 4,143 completions and 303 touchdown passes.
(At) New England 30, N.Y. Jets 14: Tom Brady (Michigan) threw a pair of touchdown passes and the Patriots didn’t allow an offensive touchdown for the third straight week.
Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead each added a rushing touchdown for the Patriots (3-0), who won their seventh straight over the Jets and earned their ninth consecutive regular-season win at home over their AFC East rival.
It was the Patriots’ first game since releasing receiver Antonio Brown. The four-time All-Pro was cut by the team on Friday after a second woman accused him of sexual misconduct. Brown’s absence didn’t slow New England against a Jets team that was without starting quarterback Sam Darnold, still recovering from mononucleosis, and injured linebacker C.J. Mosley and defensive lineman Quinnen Williams. They seemed lost at times on defense and struggled to move the ball offensively — going 0-for-12 on third down — against the Patriots’ top-ranked defense in quarterback Luke Falk’s first NFL start.
Brady was 28 of 42 for 306 yards and headed to the sideline with 8:41 left in the fourth quarter and New England leading 30-7. He was briefly replaced by rookie Jarrett Stidham, who completed his first two passes before having his third intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Jamal Adams. Brady returned the following series.
(At) Minnesota 34, Oakland 14: NFL rushing leader Dalvin Cook cruised past the 100-yard mark for the third straight game, while Kirk Cousins (Michigan State) rebounded from his rattled performance the week before with a turnover-free afternoon.
The defense had plenty to do with the victory, too. An interception by Harrison Smith of an overthrow by Oakland’s David Carr set up the second of two touchdowns by Adam Thielen to give the Vikings a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter. Eric Wilson had two of Minnesota’s four sacks.
Cook had 16 carries for 110 yards and a score in just three quarters, and his backups capably grabbed the baton. Rookie Alexander Mattison got his first NFL touchdown as the Vikings (2-1) rushed for 211 yards and didn’t even attempt a fourth-quarter pass for the second time in two home games. Last week in a loss at Green Bay, Cousins had three turnovers, including a first-and-goal interception in the end zone.
Cousins enjoyed a sack-free game for the first time in his Vikings career and finished a crisp 15 for 21 for 174 yards and one score to Thielen on their opening possession. That throw covered 35 yards, a rollout away from the play-action when he planted in front of a pressuring defensive tackle P.J. Hall and zipped the ball across the field, where Thielen was racing past safety Curtis Riley. That was one of three touchdown drives of 75-plus yards, and Thielen scored later on an inside handoff off a jet sweep at the goal line.
Derek Carr went 27 for 34 for 242 yards and touchdowns to J.J. Nelson and Tyrell Williams for Oakland (1-2)