Daniel Jones neck injury punctuates 31-16 loss to Dolphins

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Daniel Jones couldn’t last four more quarters behind the Giants’ decimated offensive line. And there’s no telling how serious his injury is just yet.

Jones, Brian Daboll’s franchise quarterback, left Sunday’s 31-16 loss to the Miami Dolphins with a neck injury after a crushing fourth-quarter sack by Dolphins pass rusher Andrew Van Ginkel.

A neck injury infamously ended Jones’ 2021 season and cost the GM and head coach their jobs that year in season two of a three-year rebuild. So there must be heightened concern here.

Left tackle Josh Ezeudu, the Giants’ best answer for a backup to injured starter Andrew Thomas (hamstring), surrendered the unabated sack with 12:42 remaining and was benched after the play.

It’s not Ezeudu’s fault, though.

The Giants tried to hand Joe Schoen’s 2022 third-round pick a starting guard spot in training camp. He couldn’t win it. And yet the Giants still switched him to tackle to protect Jones’ blind side with Thomas out.

Personnel selections and decisions like that are one of many reasons the Giants (1-4) are limping into next week’s prime time visit to Buffalo and staring a very scary 1-5 in the face.

They failed to score an offensive touchdown in the game. They were down Thomas, Saquon Barkley (ankle) and center John Michael Schmitz (shoulder). And now their starting QB is hurt.

Even backup QB Tyrod Taylor got hurt with just under two minutes to play and struggled to make it through the final 12 minutes of the game behind this O-line after replacing Jones.

It didn’t matter that Wink Martindale’s defense played with pride, even while the Dolphins’ explosive offense gained a stunning 524 yards.

The Giants defense, which entered the game as the only NFL defense with no turnovers, forced three takeaways on the high-powered Dolphins’ offense.

Safety Jason Pinnock returned an interception 102 yards for a touchdown. Bobby Okereke helped force two of the takeaways, a tip to Pinnock and an interception of his own. And Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa was flustered.

Unfortunately, a seven-point halftime deficit quickly ballooned to 14 when Tagovailoa hit Tyreek Hill for a 69-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline in the first minute of the third quarter.

Rookie corner Tre Hawkins was beaten with no deep safety help, with veteran corner Adoree Jackson oddly on the sideline. And the Giants never recovered outside of a couple Graham Gano field goals, while Raheem Mostert bulldozed in for another Miami TD at the end of the third.

The Giants only trailed 17-10 at halftime despite the Dolphins outgaining them 326 yards to 125 to that point and taking an early 14-0 lead.

That’s because Wink Martindale’s defense forced two first-half turnovers, including Pinnock’s interception.

Okereke tipped Tagovailoa’s ill-advised throw into traffic at the goal line, and Pinnock snatched the ball and raced up the right sideline for the TD with 1:40 remaining in the half to cut Miami’s lead to 14-10.

Rookie corner Deonte Banks blocked the speedy Hill onto the sideline to make sure Pinnock was home free.

It was fitting that the defense scored the Giants’ first first-half touchdown of the season. They’ve played well enough to win games with a competent offense complementing them. But they haven’t gotten any help.

Daboll did finally force-feed the ball to Darren Waller early with promising results: four catches for 49 yards on six targets before halftime. But Waller dropped what would have been a second-quarter TD on a whirly-bird route to the front right pylon with Xavier Howard making contact in coverage.

The Giants settled for a Gano 49-yard field goal for their first points of the game after Waller’s drop with 3:41 remaining in the first half.

The defense was trying its best to keep the Giants in the game right from the jump, even when Miami was bulldozing through it.

Pinnock popped the ball free from Mostert in the red zone on the Dolphins’ first drive. But the ball bounced out of bounds, and Tagovailoa capped the blistering 8-play, 86-yard drive with a 2-yard TD pass to Jaylen Waddle for a 7-0 lead at 7:09.

The Giants again failed to score a point in the first quarter. So they still have only three first-quarter points this entire season: a Week 3 Gano field goal at San Francisco.

Xavier McKinney forced a De’Von Achane fumble recovered by Kayvon Thibodeaux early in the second quarter to give the offense the ball back down, 3-0.

But they failed to score again, and Achane then rattled off a 76-yard touchdown run down the left sideline, blowing by a blocked-up Isaiah Simmons on the way for a 14-0 Miami lead at 10:02 of the second quarter.

It’s not just slow starts that have killed the Giants offense this season, though. It’s an inability to score at all.

And if Jones misses meaningful time, there is no telling how far the Giants could fall.

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