FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Giants and Daniel Jones provided the opportunities Golden Tate sought and their big free-agent acquisition began to make an impact.
Without injured top offensive playmakers Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram available against the heavily favored defending Super Bowl champions, Tate was thrust into a major role and produced as expected.
The veteran receiver was the Giants’ most productive offensive player Thursday night, catching six passes on nine targets for 102 yards and a long touchdown reception in Big Blue’s 35-14 loss to the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
“I felt like I played pretty fast. There’s a few plays I felt like I should’ve made early in the game and late in the game,” Tate said after notching the first passing touchdown, a 64-yard score, against the Patriots this season. “I’m going to look at those and find ways to make those plays. But ultimately it doesn’t matter how I played, we lost the game. I’m here to win ballgames. That’s what’s important to me.”
After struggling to create separation early on, Tate broke out in a big way. Midway through the second quarter, he made his first big play as a Giant, hauling in the long touchdown pass. Out of the slot, Tate beat cornerback Jonathan Jones on a go-route. Tate tipped the pass to himself and ran into the end zone, moonwalking across the goal line as the Giants sliced their deficit to a touchdown.
“That was probably a first,” he said of the manner in which he found pay dirt. “Just in the moment, just having fun out there. I felt like no one was going to catch me at that point. … It definitely was a spark we needed. It was imperative and good we got something going.”
He became just the second Giants wide receiver to reach 100 yards in a game this season, after Shepard’s seven-catch, 100-yard effort against the Buccaneers in Week 3. Tate, suspended for the season’s first four games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy, didn’t do much in his first game a Giant, catching three passes for 13 yards in a loss to the Vikings, and expressed disappointment with that performance. He pushed back at how his comments were taken, saying he just wanted to make a difference.
“I think it would be more alarming if I said, ‘No, I don’t want to play more, I don’t want more passes,’ ” he said. “I would look at that guy a little funny.’’
That guy was important Thursday, making plays when the ball came his way.