Daniel Jones was moving the Giants smartly down the field, using an assortment of short and mid-range passes and benefiting from the strong inside running of Devonta Freeman. With the Giants leading Washington 13-10 late in the third quarter, he got the Giants to the Washington 7-yard line and appeared in perfect position to make it a two-score game and come close to putting the game away.
And then it happened.
On first-and-goal, Jones dropped back to pass and looked for his favorite receiver, Darius Slayton, in the left corner of the end zone. But Jones was under duress from the Washington pass rush and realized he didn’t have time to set his feet and find Slayton. So he threw the ball away.
Or so he thought.
Jones tried to heave the ball out the back of the end zone, but Washington cornerback Kendall Fuller got to the ball and made a diving interception near the end line. The officials called it a touchback, and after a lengthy replay review, the call was confirmed. Washington scored a field goal to make it 13-13 on its ensuing possession.
Yet another critical turnover for Jones, who has been guilty of that problem through so much of his 18 games as the Giants’ starter. At least his teammates picked him up this time, as the Giants escaped with a 20-19 win thanks to Tae Crowder’s 43-yard fumble return with 3:29 left in the fourth quarter.
"I was just trying to throw the ball away and didn’t get enough on it, out the back of the end zone," Jones said. "I’ve got to make that decision sooner and get the ball out."
Jones was hopeful that replay would change the call and give him another opportunity.
"I thought there was a chance of it would be overturned," he said. "But can’t afford to make those mistakes."
Turnovers have been Jones’ bugaboo throughout this early part of his career. That was his sixth interception this year and his second in the end zone.
But the 23-year-old quarterback did have two particularly good moments in the Giants’ first win of the season. He threw a perfectly placed 23-yard touchdown pass to Slayton in the first quarter and reeled off a career-high 49-yard run in the second quarter to set up a field goal.
"I knew he could run, but I thought it was Daniel Jackson there for a second," said Slayton, comparing Jones to Ravens star Lamar Jackson, the best running quarterback in today’s NFL. "He stretched out a good bit. It’s huge having his ability to run to keep defenses off balance. It was a tremendous play by him."
Jones was happy to finally get the first win of the season, and the Giants can at least make the less-than-inspiring NFC East race more interesting with a win over the 1-4-1 Eagles on Thursday night in Philadelphia. Division-leading Dallas has just two wins.
"It’s exciting to get the result," Jones said. "We feel like we’ve battled in all these games. To finally get the result is a rewarding feeling. Got to build on it going forward. There are things we didn’t do well [against Washington] and things [we] did do well. The approach is to build on the good and correct the bad."