This was $40 Million Man Daniel Jones’ first chance to play Moneyball when it mattered and lead the beginning of a changing of the guard and the closing of the gap in the NFC East.
And when better than now, and where better than here, and who better against than the Cowboys, who had won 11 of the previous 12 meetings, in front of an army of raucous rain-soaked BLUE OUT Giants fans at MetLife Stadium.
He didn’t. He couldn’t.
He hardly had a chance.
The $40 Million Man was a 40-0 loser.
What was supposed to be the next step in Year 2 for Daniel Jones (15-for-28, 104 yards) and the Brian Daboll Giants turned into a disastrous, humiliating stumble.
As everything collapsed around him, Jones (sacked seven times) found himself either running for his life or buried under a violent Cowboys avalanche.
And when opening night ended for Daniel Jones and the Not Ready For Prime-Time Giants, BLUE OUT at MetLife Stadium became BLUE OUCH.
“We’re frustrated and disappointed in how we performed tonight,” Jones said, “and I know I certainly am with myself.”
Remember all those speedy new toys general manager Joe Schoen had gotten for Jones?
Neither do I.
Neither did Jones.
“There were plenty of situations where I didn’t make a good decision, didn’t make an accurate throw, to make the right read,” said Jones, playing his first game after signing a four-year, $160 million contract in the offseason. “I’m gonna be very critical of myself in those situations and look to correct that going forward.”
As the rain poured down on him in the third quarter, Jones dropped a shotgun snap, and soon you heard “Let’s Go Cowboys” from the MetLife stands.
“Didn’t execute well enough, didn’t give ourselves a chance to win the game, and we gotta own that,” Jones said.
The Cowboys’ predators were bigger, tougher, and stronger than the Giants’ offensive line. Giants receivers struggled to get open. Not the ideal formula for any quarterback.
It was Cowboys 26, Giants 0 at halftime and Jones was 5 of 13 for 43 yards and two INTs — one of which was hardly his fault. It came on what should have been a completion to Saquon Barkley, but on this comedy of errors night Trevon Diggs popped Barkley so hard that the ball popped into the air for a DaRon Bland 22-yard pick-six.
Jones (13-43 rushing) had found some early success with his legs, but trailing 19-0 he made a costly error when scrambling toward the Giants sidelines — under duress again — and attempting a desperate ill-advised flip to tight end Darren Waller that was intercepted at the NYG 28 by Stephon Gilmore. It wasn’t long before Tony Pollard was in the end zone.
“It was just a poor decision,” Jones said. “I was trying to force something that wasn’t there and needed to throw the ball out of bounds and move on to the next play.”
Waller (3-36) didn’t catch his first pass until the following Giants possession.
The Cowboys must have made poor Jones feel as if he were back at Duke. Or back playing for Joe Judge and OC Jason Garrett or Freddie Kitchens.
Cowboys DC Dan Quinn put on a clinic on how to rob a $40 million franchise quarterback at night.
The Cowboys barged into the Giants’ house and took their lunch money.
Outplayed and outcoached and outclassed. The Giants had to burn a timeout on one occasion because rookie CB Trey Hawkins found himself frantically running to the sidelines.
It was such a beatdown you kept waiting for John Mara to kick over a trash can in the press area.
“In every area, we weren’t good enough,” Daboll said, “and I’ll take that.”
As they pranced and skipped off the field with their 26-0 halftime lead and listened to boo birds savage the Giants, Cowboys players taunted them and waved their arms as if to implore them on.
“We gotta be better, gotta be able to bounce back and right the ship,” Jones said.
The Cowboys imposed their will on the Giants in every phase of the game.
Graham Gano had one field-goal try blocked and another sabotaged by a low center snap.
Jones had some early success as Vanilla Vick before rookie center John Michael Schmitz bounced a shotgun snap for Jones for a 14-yard loss on third down.
When Juanyeh Thomas blocked Gano’s first field-goal try, Noah Igbinoghene returned it 58 yards for a TD.
The rout was on, and Jones couldn’t do a thing about it.
Daboll was in no hurry to save Jones from the downpour from the heavens and the havoc raining down on him in Garbage Time.
“I wanted to stay in, and there wasn’t any conversation,” Jones said.
Daboll: “Tried to get something positive going.”
“This wasn’t our best game, there’s no doubt about it. … This wasn’t what we’re capable of being,” Jones said.