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Giants squander early lead; fall to Dolphins 27-10

Posted Aug 12, 2016

The Giants opened their preseason schedule with a home loss to the Dolphins Friday night: 

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants’ opening preseason game confirmed the obvious: the offense isn’t nearly as productive without Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr., and the defense looks much better with free agent imports Damon Harrison, Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins.

But on balance, Ben McAdoo will not remember his head coaching debut fondly. The starters staked the Giants to an early 10-point lead. But the reserves gave it all back and more, and the Giants fell to the Miami Dolphins in MetLife Stadium, 27-10.

>> WATCH GIANTS VS. DOLPHINS HIGHLIGHTS

The Giants announced early in the day that Manning would not play, and that Ryan Nassib would start at quarterback. Beckham was scheduled to take a few snaps. But after the start of the game was delayed an hour after warmups by severe weather, McAdoo decided to keep his star receiver tethered to the sideline.

Nassib played the first three quarters and completed seven of 15 passes for 75 yards. He did not throw a touchdown pass, was intercepted twice - each time on a pass that was underthrown – and fumbled three times, losing one (the Giants lost two of six fumbles). Nassib was sacked four times, the first, not coincidentally, on the first play of the third offensive series, immediately after the second line replaced the starters.

“I think, overall, as an offense, Ryan was right in line with everybody else tonight,” McAdoo said. “It was a sloppy performance. Anytime you have six balls on the ground and two INT’s, it was not what we were looking for.

“He was playing a little better with the first offensive line in there, then we started getting a little bit of pressure. Some throws were coming up short. Again, we need to go back and look at the tape and evaluate it from there.”

On the plus side, Nassib directed a nine-play, 74-yard drive on the game’s first series that ended with Rashad Jennings’ three-yard touchdown run up the middle. But the fourth-year pro wasn’t focused on that after the game.

“Obviously, the turnovers were unacceptable,” said Nassib, who made his second career preseason start (the other was at New England last year). “We put ourselves in some tough positions and we have to do a better job of bouncing back and making some plays, moving the ball and putting some more points on the board.”

Nassib seemed particularly annoyed about his three second-quarter turnovers, which enabled the Dolphins to score 17 points before halftime. The first was a throw to rookie Sterling Shepard that was picked off by Bobby McCain. It led to Miami’s first points, on Andrew Franks’ 49-yard field goal.

On the Giants’ next possession, Nassib was sacked by safety Walt Aikens and fumbled. The ball was recovered by former Giant Spencer Paysinger, who returned it to the five. On the next play, Damien Williams ran through the left side for a touchdown that tied the score at 10-10.  

The Giants faced a third-and-nine on the next series when Nassib threw long for Myles White. But rookie A.J. Hendy intercepted the pass, setting up Matt Moore’s 51-yard touchdown toss to Matt Hazel that gave Miami a 17-10 halftime lead.

“I underthrew those balls on single and man coverage,” Nassib said. “I have to put a little more air under those and let those guys run underneath it.”

>> INSTANT POSTGAME ANALYSIS

The Giants’ starting defense made life miserable for the Dolphins’ offense. Miami didn’t pick up its initial first down until midway through the second quarterback, long after the starters had taken residence on the sideline (expect for safeties Landon Collins and Darian Thompson).

“I thought the first-team defense took a solid step tonight,” McAdoo said, “coming out and playing with each other for the first time…encouraging.”

“It just feels good with all the guys getting the blood flowing and running around,” said Vernon, who started at right defensive end. “Making sure all the communication was right. That’s the biggest thing in game one in live action. The biggest thing is to make sure the communication was right and everything was flowing. So I’m just looking forward to next week (when the Giants visit Buffalo).”


The Dolphins’ first three possessions were brief three-and-outs, followed by an even more futile series in which they failed to gain a yard and punted from the seven-yard line. Their fifth possession was a two-play set that ended with Jonathan Casillas’ interception of a Matt Moore pass, which he returned to the Dolphins’ 11.

Josh Brown kicked a 20-yard field goal, but the Giants should have scored a touchdown. They had a first down at the one when Nassib fumbled the snap and recovered at the two. Andre Williams was stopped for no gain and Nassib threw short to Sterling Shepard on third down.

After the difficulties the Giants encountered in the second quarter, they were outscored in the second half 10-0.

“The first couple of drives, we saw some glimpses of things that we can do well,” Jennings said. “We see that if we eliminate self-inflicted wounds, eliminate pre-snap penalties, then we have a great chance of being a good offense, putting points on the board, putting our defense in great spots and playing team football, but we have to take care (of our own mistakes) first.”