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Daniel Jones adds 'skilled receiver' to his resume

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones catches a pass in

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones catches a pass in front of Panthers' Sean Chandler during the second half of an NFL game on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Credit: AP/Bill Kostroun

Eli Manning presumably was off somewhere getting honored for something or recording a TV commercial or prepping for his "Monday Night Football" gig with brother Peyton.

Odell Beckham Jr. was in Cleveland.

Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard and Kadarius Toney were out with injuries.

Amani Toomer? Tiki Barber? Rodney Hampton? Joe Morris? Mark Bavaro? Homer Jones?

Hello? Were there any elite offensive playmakers available for the Giants on Sunday?

It turned out there was at least one: Daniel Jones, who took it upon himself to be all of the above in a 25-3 victory over the Panthers at MetLife Stadium.

"QB1, RB1 and wide receiver 1," as safety Logan Ryan put it.

Perhaps "elite" playmaker is a bit of a stretch in the case of the third-year quarterback, whose uneven development has left open the question of whether he is the long-term answer at the position.

But that was part of the point on Sunday, when he provided more evidence in his favor. On a day when he seemed bereft of reliable help, Jones shrugged off that challenge and just made plays, often taking physical punishment as he ran the ball — and ran from pressure.

He was 23-for-33 passing for 203 yards and a touchdown. He rushed eight times for 28 yards.

He scrambled to keep alive several big plays, including a game-changing third-and-12 completion for 14 yards to Devontae Booker on the Giants’ first touchdown drive.

But it was what happened on the play after that that everyone was talking about afterward, and that figures to be part of Jones’ highlight reel in perpetuity.

Surely you have seen it by now. Jones gave the ball to Booker, who gave the ball to Dante Pettis, who threw it in the direction of Jones, who was running down the right side of the field uncovered.

The ball either was thrown too high or Jones ran to it too slowly — or maybe both — but the quarterback made a one-handed, Beckham-like stab with his right hand, steadied the ball on his facemask, secured it with his left hand, then held on to it for a 16-yard gain despite being hammered by Carolina’s Sean Chandler.

"I think it was a good throw," Jones said. "I didn’t think the route was very good, and I don’t think I was moving very fast. I’ve been on the other end of that. I get mad at guys, and I did the same thing there."

Said Pettis: "I thought that was a dime if he would have run . . . He made a great catch, so I guess it worked out even better." But Pettis agreed that Jones "slowed down a little bit, and that’s a no-no."

Six plays later, the two reversed roles, as Jones hit Pettis with a 5-yard touchdown pass on a third-and-3 to give the Giants a 12-3 lead.

But their first connection was the one all concerned remembered.

"I have to get a still shot of that and get it signed," kicker Graham Gano said.

Sunday was an important game for Jones, who suffered a concussion two weeks ago against the Cowboys and had an awful game against the Rams in Week 6.

Now here came the Panthers and their quarterback, former Jet Sam Darnold, whom the Giants passed on drafting in 2018 to take Barkley. Instead, they waited until 2019 to tab Jones as their quarterback of the near future.

Darnold was 16-for-25 for 111 yards and an interception before getting benched in the fourth quarter.

Jones, meanwhile, overcame a lack of resources and flashed what he can do, while his defense backed him with a rock-solid effort.

Does this mean all doubt has been erased about Jones? Of course not. He continues to veer between tantalizing and infuriating. His approval rating rises and falls by the week. His team is 2-5 and a postseason long shot.

Check back in January, and even then, this could be an unresolved matter. But now more than ever, there can be no doubt about Jones’ versatile athletic gifts.

"Man, it was pretty smooth," cornerback James Bradberry said of Jones’ reception. "I’m just glad he caught it."

Someone had to.

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