Sorry, Daniel Jones, but your one-handed catch against the Panthers on Sunday was not the greatest in Giants history. Not even close. It may be comparable in still photographs, the two players both outstretched and reaching for the football, but Odell Beckham Jr.’s grab almost seven years ago remains the top play in that limited category.
That, of course, has not stopped the freight train of hype from barreling down the tracks in the day or so since Jones hauled in his first career reception. As these things are wont to do, it has taken on a life of its own, gone viral, become a meme and been photoshopped into any variety of scenes and backgrounds. Heck, PFF named Jones their highest-graded receiver of the week!
Even inside the team’s locker room, the catch remained a topic of conversation on Monday.
"I think everybody was pretty excited about it," receiver Darius Slayton said. "It was a pretty special play for anybody to make, but especially a quarterback."
Really, though, here is the most significant difference between the dizzying, dazzling, life-altering, LeBron-posting, acrobatic, bent-over-backwards, fouled-on-the-play, three-fingered, 43-yard touchdown catch that Beckham made and the 16-yard reception Jones made:
The Giants won this game.
It may be remembered for the Jones catch, but the result really had more to do with the other 66 offensive plays he engineered than the one that has become part of his lifetime highlight reel.
More specifically, the play right before the gadget call that resulted in his foray as a receiver may have been his best play as an NFL quarterback.
That one was a third-and-12 from the Giants’ 38. Jones was pressured almost immediately but stepped up to a clearing and slid to his right. He looked as if he was about to run with the ball, so much so that the defenders began charging at him. That’s when he lofted a soft little pass right over them and into the hands of running back Devontae Booker. The play picked up 14 yards for a key first down on a drive that ended with a touchdown pass from Jones to Dante Pettis that gave the Giants a 12-3 lead.
It illustrated how Jones was able to overcome the absence of some of his best offensive teammates and find a way to will forward the team with which he was on the field on Sunday. "Simply put," Joe Judge said, "you can definitely elevate the level of play of the people around you by playing well yourself."
Judge dismissed the idea that Jones had to lift the players who were on the field Sunday while Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Sterling Shepard and Andrew Thomas were not.
‘I’d say all the players on our team came to play yesterday," Judge said. "We had starters yesterday. We had 11 people starting on offense, we had 11 people starting on defense."
It was Jones who turned those "starters" into something else by the end of the game: Winners.
"Everybody on the team believes in DJ," Slayton said. "Whether it’s guys who have played a lot of snaps or guys who have played zero snaps, everybody out there believes in 8 and knows that if you are out there with him, you will have catchable, accurate passes to catch. At the end of the day, it’s on us to complete them."
Jones gave his receivers a tutorial on how to do that, and it assuredly will be rehashed and replayed for a long timeIt might even finally bury the previous iconic image of Jones’ career, the video of him stumbling in the open field on a would-be touchdown run against the Eagles almost exactly one year ago.
But Jones’ legacy with the Giants will be as a quarterback, not a receiver. If he can continue to make progress in that regard, make plays like the one just before his catch and elevate those around him whether they be stars or stiffs, it might be just as much fun to watch as his one-handed grab was.