Sept. 23 (UPI) -- New York Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones rallied his team to a victory Sunday after trailing 28-10 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, capped off with a fourth quarter rushing touchdown in the final minutes of the triumph.
In his first NFL start, Jones completed 23 of 36 passes for 336 yards and two passing scores and notched two rushing touchdowns at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. The Giants won 32-31 after outscoring the Buccaneers 22-3 in the second half, despite playing without star running back Saquon Barkley down the stretch.
"It has been a different week [with] what's happened," Jones said, referencing winning the starting job over veteran Eli Manning.
"I think as a team we did a good job preparing and focusing on what we needed to do to play this game. I thought we had a good plan going in, we knew what to expect -- just a great team win."
Star wide receiver Mike Evans powered the Buccaneers in the first half, catching three touchdown passes from quarterback Jameis Winston. Tampa Bay (1-2) also got two first half field goals from Matt Gay. Aldrick Rosas hit a 36-yard field goal in the first quarter for New York (1-2) and the Giants also got a 7-yard rushing score from Jones in the opening quarter.
Jones began the comeback by connecting with tight end Evan Engram on a 75-yard touchdown toss on the first drive of the second half. The Buccaneers punted on the next drive, before Jones orchestrated an 8-play, 90-yard scoring drive. Jones connected with Sterling Shepard for a 7-yard touchdown to end that drive with a score and pull the Giants within three points of the lead.
Both teams struggled to score on the next six drives before the Buccaneers pushed their lead to 31-25 with another Gay field goal in the fourth quarter. The Giants and Buccaneers exchanged punts before Jones led the game-winning drive. Jones' squad took possession on the Giants' 25 yard line, and he completed his first five passes to put the Giants on the Tampa Bay 7 yard line. He then threw back-to-back incompletions, resulting in a 4th and 5 with 1:21 remaining.
Jones took the snap and scanned his progressions before running the ball straight up the middle for the go-ahead score. The rookie ran 19.5 mph on the touchdown run, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
"Just what I saw, they were playing some kind of man and it just opened up, I saw grass and took it," Jones said. "A fun finish to it, exciting last drive. Thought we did a good job getting people open and protecting. It was a fun finish."
Winston marched the Buccaneers down the field on the game's final possession, but Gay missed a 34 yard field goal to end the contest.
Winston completed 23 of 37 passes for 380 yards, three scores and an interception in the loss. Evans had 190 yards and three scores on eight catches for the Buccaneers. Ronald Jones had 121 yards from scrimmage on 115 touches in the loss. Buccaneers pass rusher Shaquil Barrett had four sacks.
Engram had 113 yards and a score for the Giants. Shepard added 100 yards and a score on seven receptions. Barkley had just 10 yards on eight carries before exiting the game with an ankle injury in the second quarter.
"Probably the story of the game will be the rookie quarterback," Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. "I thought Daniel Jones did a pretty good job his first time out. I think as he goes along, he'll continue to get better. There were mistakes within there.
"There were a couple of times when we took a couple sacks, the fumbles, some of that loose stuff, we can work on that, there's drills for that. There's stuff that he did in the game, there's not drills for that. We believed in him from the day we drafted him and first time out he didn't disappoint."
The Giants host the Washington Redskins in an NFC East clash at 1 p.m. EDT Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The Buccaneers battle the Los Angeles Rams at 4:05 p.m. EDT Sunday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.