EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — A little more than a week ago, there were questions about whether Joe Judge was going to let Jason Garrett call the offensive plays for the New York Giants.
Judge stood pat, and it worked.
There were no questions this week after Daniel Jones threw for 402 yards and the Giants rallied from an 11-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Saints 27-21 in overtime in New Orleans.
The statistics were all good. New York piled up 485 yards and averaged 8.1 yards on 60 plays. Jones threw for two touchdowns and ran for a 2-point conversion. Saquon Barkley had his best game coming off his ACL injury, catching a TD and scoring the game-winner on a 6-yard run.
The offensive line didn’t allow a sack. The only negatives were Graham Gano missed an extra-point-length, field-goal attempt and Jones threw an interception on a heave at the end of the first half.
All the Giants (1-3) have to do now to keep everyone happy is knock off the NFC East-leading Cowboys (3-1) on Sunday in Dallas. The Cowboys have won three straight after dropping their opener to the Super Bowl champion Bucs.
If there was a big difference last week, it was that the Giants pushed the ball down the field. Jones (28 of 40) had nine passes of 18 yards or more, highlighted by the TD passes of 52 yards to John Ross and 54 to Barkley.
“I don’t think anything we ran in the game was anything different, to be honest with you,” Garrett said Thursday. “Sometimes you call those plays and the ball has to go somewhere else for a variety of reasons. We had some opportunities to start with, the protection to hold the ball a little bit, and drive the ball down the field a little bit more than in the past.”
In other words, there were no breakdowns or mistakes.
Garrett was particularly proud of his line, which had a new left guard, Matt Skura, for the fourth straight game because of injuries. The banged-up receiving group — Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton were out with hamstring injuries — got big plays from Ross, rookie Kadarius Toney, and playmaker Kenny Golladay.
Barkley had 126 all-purpose yards — 52 rushing and 74 receiving — and two touchdowns.
“He worked really, really hard to get himself back and I think we all see that he continues to improve day by day and week by week,” Garrett said of Barkley who injured a knee in the second game of 2020.
“We saw some of the plays that he’s made throughout his career in the early part of the season, but that game the other day, you saw exactly what you said. You saw him make some great space plays, but also some tough runs inside.”
Barkley was very pleased with both touchdowns. He showed open-field running ability on the TD catch and straight ahead power on the winner.
“First one got me in my bag,” Barkley said. “After I scored, I was like, ‘Yeah!’ In my bag means in the zone, I got in my zone. I liked the last one. It probably made me feel like I’m getting closer to feeling better.”
Jones also is feeling better about himself this season. He’s learned how to get rid of the ball and he’s using his legs to create offense when the pass isn’t there.
“I think that’s a big sign of maturity, and then he’s been able to make more and more plays,” Garrett said of Jones. “As the environment gets better around him, as we protect better and we get some guys outside who can make some plays for him, he’s going to continue to play better. That’s been my experience with quarterback play. You make the environment better, all of a sudden, the guy starts to play better and better.”
The next test for Garrett and the offense will be Sunday against a Cowboys defense that is tied for the league lead with a plus-7 turnover margin.
NOTES: Shepard, Slayton and S Jabrill Peppers — all hamstrings — did not practice Thursday. … LT Andrew Thomas (foot) and DL Leonard Williams (knee) were limited in practice.