Daniel Jones of the New York Giants warms up before...

Daniel Jones of the New York Giants warms up before the game against the Saints at Caesars Superdome on October 3, 2021 in New Orleans. Credit: Getty Images/Jonathan Bachman

After winning his first NFC Offensive Player of the Week award, you’d have figured there’d be plenty more where that came from for Daniel Jones.

In which case, you’d have been wrong.

Jones earned top honors in that category in his very first start, when he took over for Eli Manning in Week 3 of the 2019 season and produced a tour de force against the Buccaneers by throwing for two touchdowns and running for two others — including the game-winning score — in a 32-31 win.

It took him 742 days to duplicate the award.

Jones was honored Wednesday for a terrific performance in leading the Giants back from a 21-10 fourth-quarter deficit against the Saints. He rallied the team with 11 points in the final period of regulation and set up Saquon Barkley’s game-winning touchdown in overtime of a 27-21 decision at the Superdome for the team’s first win of the season.

"It’s certainly very cool to be recognized and appreciated," Jones said after practice Wednesday.

In typical fashion, however, he pointed to what the award meant in terms of those around him.

"I think it says a lot about our offense and our team," he said. "The whole team has to play well to score points and to gain a lot of yards. I think it’s a credit to all those guys."

Yet it is mostly a credit to Jones, who threw for a career-high 402 yards and two touchdowns. His only interception came on a desperation heave in the final seconds of the first half, snapping a streak of 124 passes without a pick. Jones has just two interceptions in his last 331 attempts over a 10-game span, a testament to his improvement after a turnover-plagued run through the early part of his career.

Wednesday’s honor was further confirmation of Jones’ recent improvement, and the statistical performance reflects that progress. But Jones is the first to tell you that none of it matters unless that only truly important stat gets better: the record.

It all started with such great promise on that muggy afternoon in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2019, when Jones became an overnight sensation and quickly earned the nickname "Danny Dimes." But reality hit hard, and so did the losing. Since that impressive debut, Jones has won just eight games and lost 22.

"We haven’t won enough games, and that’s no secret the first two years," Jones said. "Obviously, this season didn’t start out how we wanted to or expected to [with three straight losses]. Those are storms that people have to weather. We’ve got to continue to progress, continue to improve . . . It’s hard to win in this league. It takes a lot of hard work and preparation."

And let’s not pretend that one comeback win over the Saints will suddenly turn Jones and the Giants into a juggernaut. The fact remains that an 0-3 start is a massive hole from which to emerge. And Jones must now go on the road again Sunday to face a Dallas team that is playing as well as almost anyone in the league. The Dallas defense, now presided over by veteran defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and featuring rookie Micah Parsons at linebacker and second-year cornerback Trevon Diggs, has been terrific.

"It’s a good group, a very talented group, they play fast, and they play hard," Jones said. "We’ll have to be aware of some of those guys, [but] it comes down to us doing what we need to do in executing as a unit."

If his performance against the Saints is any indication, the Giants stand at least a fighting chance against the improved 3-1 Cowboys. Jones took advantage of the presence of new receivers Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney and some welcome aggressiveness by offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who now faces his old Cowboys team for the third time as the Giants’ play-caller.

"The depth at that [wide receiver] position is big for us, a lot of guys coming in and doing a lot of different things well," Jones said. "That was big. Those guys stepped up. I think the biggest thing was executing better on the field. There’s been opportunities that we haven’t executed as well early on. It’s a credit to the [offensive linemen] up front, and the receivers stepped up."

On to Dallas, where Jones hopes things go better after this player of the week award than the last one.

"That’s a big win for us [against the Saints], but it’s over now," Jones said. "Our focus is on Dallas and making sure we’re prepared this week."


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