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Duke in the NFL: Jones’ Giants stumble, Gray continues to contribute

Offensive guard Laken Tomlinson has played all but two offensive snaps for the Jets this season.
Offensive guard Laken Tomlinson has played all but two offensive snaps for the Jets this season.

Week 12 in the NFL was eventful, and former Blue Devils helped contribute to the chaos. The Blue Zone takes a look at their performances:

Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants

Quarterback Daniel Jones faced a challenge in this week’s matchup against a division rival, the Cowboys, as the Giants seek to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Duke product finished 21-for-35 in passing attempts for a total of 228 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions—a solid stat line, but not necessarily an outstanding one. While the quarterback steered clear of any egregious mistakes such as avoidable turnovers, Jones’ performance fell well short of stellar, as he missed easy throws to extend drives that could have changed the course of the game. 

This was made especially clear in the third quarter. Trailing 14-13, head coach Brian Daboll chose to go for fourth-and-1 from his own 45-yard line. It was a risky move that could have paid dividends—running back Saquon Barkley was wide open coming off a flat route with an abundance of room up ahead—yet Jones failed to hit him in stride, and Barkley couldn’t haul it in. The Cowboys took over on downs and scored six plays later, extending their lead, and the Giants eventually fell to 7-4 with the 28-20 loss. 

As New York loses its third in four games, it will look to Jones for an important win against another division rival, the Washington Commanders, on Sunday. 

Noah Gray, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

Former Duke tight end Noah Gray recorded two receptions for 16 yards against the Los Angeles Rams, his seventh game in a row with a catch. Gray has been accumulating significantly more playing time, receptions and yards in his second year with the Chiefs, as he hones his skills behind elite tight end Travis Kelce. In Kansas City’s game against the defending Super Bowl Champions, Gray took 66% of offensive snaps, fewer than only Kelce amongst tight ends. Gray has a chance to extend his receiving streak as the Chiefs seek to avenge their AFC Championship loss to the Bengals this Sunday. 

Laken Tomlinson, Michael Carter II, New York Jets

Despite quarterback Zach Wilson sitting this week out, the Jets cruised to a victory against an injured Bears team. For the first time in nearly two years, guard Laken Tomlinson did not play every single offensive snap, ending with a 97% snap count. He did, however, still have plenty of time to contribute to consistent play from the offensive line, which held the Bears defense to a single sack and three quarterback hits. Backup quarterback Mike White reaped the rewards, leading the Jets to a victory. Michael Carter II aided the defensive side of the ball, with two solo tackles. New York has a date with the Vikings this Sunday.

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