MINNEAPOLIS — In his first career playoff game, Daniel Jones made history. It prompted him to run away with her to label him an “elitist”.
Jones became the first quarterback in NFL history to have 300 passing yards, two touchdown passes and at least 70 rushes in a playoff game. He was undeniably dominant in his playoff debut, leading the New York Giants to victory in the fourth quarter of a 31-24 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
It was running back Saquon Barkley who was convinced Jones was already one of the best in the NFL.
“I know we have an elite quarterback,” Barkley said. “He’s shown that several times.”
Jones has been the Giants’ best player in the second half of the season. And now it moved to the playoffs in a season where its future was in jeopardy. Jones, who is a free agent at the end of the season, went 24 of 35 for 301 yards with two touchdowns against the Vikings. He added 78 yards rushing on 17 carries as New York won its first playoff game since the Super Bowl game of the 2011 season.
At that moment, the debate about Eli Manning being “elite” was almost settled. He was on his way to his second Super Bowl MVP.
The Giants had questions about Jones earlier this offseason when they declined the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. He had to prove to the new administration that he was capable of being a pillar of the franchise.
25-year-old Jones did it. He checked almost every box. stayed healthy for an entire season, fixed the turnover problem, played well in key spots and now added a playoff win to his resume.
“It means a lot, it means a lot,” Jones said of the win, in which he didn’t turn the ball over again. “It’s a big win for us and we’re grateful to be a part of it.”
Jones has one turnover in his last five games. He has nine touchdowns in that span.
The sixth-seeded Giants, who will face the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round, seem to almost expect such dominant play from their quarterback on a weekly basis.
“Well played,” coach Brian Daboll said nonchalantly after winning his first playoff game as head coach. “Well played”.
“Yeah, win the football,” Daboll added.
Talk about understating the performance. Jones was better than good, and everyone else watching him seemed to notice. Even those around him.
Judging by the reaction of his teammates afterward as they mobbed him in the locker room, the brilliance Jones displayed for the entire nation was evident.
Jones went 5-for-5 for 100 yards and had two runs for 22 yards in the first quarter alone as the Giants punted on their two possessions.
“Amazing,” left tackle Andrew Thomas said of his quarterback’s play in Minnesota. “He made every play we asked him to make. He wasn’t turning the ball over. When there was nothing open in the field, he would rattle and play. He was great for us.”
Jones knew how big this game was for him and his teammates. Late last week, he called Manning for advice on what a playoff game would look like. Manning told him the intensity will be raised, but the onus is on the current Giants starting quarterback to continue doing as he has done all season.
Jones did just that, even if it wasn’t just another game.
“I think there was some nerves involved,” Jones admitted. “We were excited. Had a lot of expectations going into it. When we settled in and started playing, it was the same feeling. It was just about execution and doing our job after the play. I thought we did so well as a group. “.
If Jones was nervous at first, it was impossible to tell. He threw arrows and blew past defenders. That didn’t change during the afternoon. The Vikings remained unanswered.
Daboll said then using Jones as a runner was part of the game plan. The Giants didn’t do that often in the previous meeting, when Jones had just four carries. The 17 attempts were a career high. His previous high was 12 earlier this season.
Seven of Jones’ rushes went for first downs as he joined Steve Young and Lamar Jackson as the only quarterbacks to throw for 300 yards and rush in at least 75 playoff games.
“For this game, we thought that was something we didn’t do at all last game that we thought would be a little bit of a new wrinkle,” Daboll said. “I mean, people have seen us do them, but we have a wide variety of them.”
These wrinkles are a big part of what took Jones to a new level. And his teammates call him elite.