by Brett Martel, Associated Press
Daniel Jones and the indefatigable New York Giants faced down deafening crowd noise in the Superdome, erased an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter and broke into the win column in a game fittingly decided on the final play.
Saquon Barkley ran for a 6-yard touchdown in overtime after Jones passed for a career-high 402 yards, and the Giants rallied for their first win of the season, 27-21 over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
“We’ve shown glimpses of what we can be as an offense throughout these first four games,” said Jones, whose team’s 0-3 start included losses on game-ending field goals the previous two weeks. “We made a few more plays and made the plays when it counted. … We needed a win and there was a high sense of urgency.”
The Saints, playing in New Orleans for the first time since Hurricane Ida struck on Aug. 29, led 21-10 in the fourth quarter before Jones found Barkley uncovered along the left sideline for a 54-yard touchdown pass that ignited the Giants’ comeback.
Jones ran for a 2-point conversion to make it 21-18, then led the Giants (1-3) to Graham Gano’s tying, 48-yard field goal with 31 seconds left in regulation.
“I love Daniel. He had a heck of a game,” Giants coach Joe Judge said. “I’m very proud of how this guy came down here, prepared throughout the week and the performance he had on the field today in that environment against that defense.”
After New York won the coin toss to start the extra period, Jones completed five passes for 67 yards to set up Barkley’s winning score against a defense that allowed the sixth fewest yards in the NFL through the season’s first three weeks.
“This team has been through a lot. We’ve been through a lot of close games and previously we haven’t found a way to finish it,” Barkley said. “That was just our motto, that’s what we kept saying at halftime: Stick together … and find a way to win this game.”
Jameis Winston passed for 226 yards and a touchdown, and reserve quarterback Taysom Hill ran for two touchdowns for the Saints (2-2), who wilted in front of nearly 70,000 fans in the first game played in the dome without restrictions on crowd size since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I apologize to the fans,” Winston said. “I was so happy to be here and so blessed to have this opportunity to play in front of our fans. That was the best part about today. You don’t like to lose those type of games.”
The Saints spent the first three weeks of the regular season operating out of the Dallas area and moved their Sept. 12 home opener against Green Bay to Jacksonville.
Hill, whom the Saints employ as a change-of-pace, read-option QB, gave the Saints their first lead at 14-7 in the third quarter on a relentless, spinning, tackle-breaking 8-yard run during which he was hit five times before crossing the goal line.
Jones marched the Giants back down the field, but the Saints’ defense stiffened after New York had a first-and-goal at the 3 to force Gano’s short field goal that made it 14-10.
Hill added another 8-yard TD run, but the Saints were left to rue some missed opportunities and untimely mistakes.
In the third quarter, Adam Trautman’s holding penalty wiped Winston’s 46-yard pass to Kenny Stills in the end zone. One play later, Hill attempted another deep pass that was intercepted by James Bradberry.
“It’s frustrating, it’s disappointing and all of those emotions,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “That’s why it feels so good to win and that’s why it feels this way when you lose. We can’t get this game back.”
After a scoreless first 21 minutes that included missed field goals by each team, the Giants struck first on a long passing play that became the subject of an official scoring change after the fact.
Jones found newly activated receiver John Ross down the middle of the field for a 52-yard touchdown. The ball came loose as Ross was tackled at the goal line, but the nearest official gave the touchdown signal and Saints defenders didn’t pursue the loose ball while Ross raced over to pick it up.
Several minutes later, the NFL announced that the play was officially ruled a forced fumble by Saints safety Marcus Williams that was recovered by Ross.
The Saints responded on their next series with Winston’s 15-yard touchdown pass to tight end Juwan Johnson, capping a 13-play, 75-yard drive that ran out most of the last 8:51 of the first half.