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Duke in the NFL: Crowder makes season debut, Jones propels Giants to first win

Jamison Crowder made his season debut Sunday.
Jamison Crowder made his season debut Sunday.

As the NFL's first month of play comes to a close, the Blue Zone takes a look at how former Blue Devils across the league performed in Week Four:

Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants

The third-year signal-caller is clearly having a breakthrough season as he sits in the top seven players in the league in passing yards and is third among quarterbacks in rushing yards. The latest installment of Giants football saw the Jones-led offense take down the New Orleans Saints on a touchdown run by Saquon Barkley in overtime, 27-21. The game was well-managed by the Charlotte, N.C., native, who piled on a career-high 402 yards with a solid 70% completion rate. Jones’ career day also served as a breakout game for first-round rookie wideout Kadarius Toney, who rounds out a surprisingly solid offense alongside Sterling Shepard, Kenny Golladay and a healthy Barkley.

As a result of the performance, which featured a comeback from a 21-10 fourth-quarter deficit and a 6-for-6, 75-yard overtime drive, Jones was selected as NFC Offensive Player of the Week for the second time in his career.

With their first win of the new season under their belts, the Giants can now look forward to a date with the rival Dallas Cowboys. If Jones picks up where he left off in New Orleans, a shootout may be on our hands with more surprises from “Danny Dimes” left to come.

Jamison Crowder, WR, New York Jets

He’s finally back. 

After missing the first three games of 2021 due to COVID-19 and then a groin injury, the seventh-year pro is back on track as a key part of the Jets’ new-look offense. Crowder’s return also propelled rookie Zach Wilson to a breakout game and the Jets to their third win since the beginning of the 2020 season. Duke’s second all-time receiving yards leader totaled seven catches on nine targets for 61 yards and a score. 

Notably, Crowder’s return and threat in the passing game opened up opportunities for vertical runner Corey Davis, who made a catch on a 53-yard Wilson bomb with former Blue Devil defensive back Breon Borders draped all over him. If Crowder returns to the level of consistency he found at the beginning of 2020, more opportunities may arise for Wilson and the offense. With the upgrade, the Jets might just be finding their stride out of the cellar of the league.

Ross Cockrell, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady’s return to New England, the Tampa Bay defense had its work cut out for itself against rookie passer Mac Jones. The Patriots led with under two minutes left and the Buccaneers ultimately won on a missed field goal. Earlier in the game, Cockrell made several big plays while covering the slot—he officially tallied three tackles and a defended pass. That defended pass became a huge play for the defending Super Bowl champions, as a deflected ball in the face of Cockrell’s coverage was picked off to terminate a first-quarter New England drive.

The Waxhaw, N.C., native is still on pace to set a career-high in tackles in his second year in Tampa Bay.

Editor's note: This article was published before Daniel Jones was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week. The Chronicle updated the article after the news broke.

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