MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Millions of people have traveled to South Florida looking for fun, only to have their aspirations dashed by travel mishaps, no-star hotels and relentless rain that could turn a dream week into a nightmare. The Giants endured none of that but needed just three hours Sunday to consume a huge bowl of unpleasantness in Hard Rock Stadium.
To summarize the trip briefly: the Giants lost to the Miami Dolphins, 31-16. The offense did not score a touchdown. The defense gave up 524 yards and a 69-yard touchdown pass when their best cornerback was on the sideline for an equipment adjustment. Fielding an injury-depleted offensive line, the running backs averaged 2.2 yards on 21 carries and the quarterbacks were sacked seven times. That's 18 sacks in two games, 16 on quarterback Daniel Jones.
"Affecting the quarterback plays an important role in the game," coach Brian Daboll said, "and we've got to figure out a way to protect him better."
Not to bury the lead, but Jones injured his neck in the fourth quarter absorbing his sixth and final sack. After a brief stop in the medical tent, Jones went to the locker room. A neck injury cost him the final six games of the 2021 season. Because of that, is this an unsettling injury?
"I'm not going to get wrapped up in that kind of stuff at this point," Jones said. "I think I'm going to see where we're at tomorrow and go from there."
Asked if the current injury is like the former one, Jones said, "It's tough to say for sure. I've certainly dealt with a similar issue. I'll meet with the doctors and trainers and go from there."
Jones had an x-ray in the stadium and will undergo a more comprehensive scan Monday.
"I feel fine," Jones said. "I think I'm certainly in some pain; physical game."
View photos from the Giants' Week 5 matchup against the Miami Dolphins.
The Giants fell to 1-4 while losing their third consecutive game. Next up is another prime-time game in Buffalo.
"It's not the end of the world or the end of the season," defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence said. "Still got (a lot) of games left. So, you gotta just keep going."
The Giants played without four starters: running back Saquon Barkley, who missed his third consecutive game with a sprained ankle; left tackle Andrew Thomas (hamstring), who sat out for the fourth consecutive week; center John Michael Schmitz (shoulder) and linebacker Micah McFadden (ankle), who each missed their first game of the season.
The new starting offensive line quintet of – left to right – Joshua Ezeudu, Mark Glowinski, Ben Bredeson, Markus McKethan and Evan Neal didn't last long. Only Glowinski and Neal made it to the end of the game without incident. Bredeson missed three early plays when he was examined by medical personnel and replaced by Jaylon Thomas, who made his NFL debut after being elevated from the practice squad Saturday. McKethan injured his knee early in the game and was replaced for the remainder of the game by Jalen Mayfield, another reinforcement from the practice squad. Ezeudu was lifted for Matt Peart after the Andy Van Ginkel sack that forced Jones from the game.
The Giants averaged just 3.9 yards on their 68 plays (14 more than Miami ran). Their only scores were on Graham Gano field goals of 49, 37 and 51 yards, and Jason Pinnock's 102-yard interception return touchdown, which tied a franchise record.
The offense's best chance to score was when Jones threw a strike to Darren Waller in the second quarter. But the tight end, who had team highs with eight catches and 86 yards, could not corral the ball.
"He (safety Xavier Howard) got his arm in there," Waller said, "but that's a play that's got to be made. I'll be thinking about that one."
On the plus side, the Giants did not commit a turnover. And their defense forced three of them, two interceptions and a fumble.
But they barely slowed down the Dolphins, whose devastating team speed was on full display. They averaged 9.7 yards a play while throwing for 302 yards and running for 222 more. Rookie De'Von Achane rushed for 151 yards on just 11 carries, a 13.7-yard average. Tyreek Hill caught eight passes for 181 yards.
"They're real fast," Daboll said. "Took a lot of short passes for long gains. When you get explosive plays, it usually leads to points."
"I think that's by far the most speed on any team I'll see until something later down the line, when I'm 60, 70, (and) there's somebody else that's got super speed like that," cornerback Adoree' Jackson said. "I think for a while it's gonna be one of those teams you haven't seen in a while."
Miami ran seven plays that gained 20 or more yards, including a 76-yard touchdown run by Achane and Tua Tagovailoa passes to Hill for 64 and 69 yards, the latter of which gave the Dolphins a 24-10 lead on the third play of the second half. Jackson, the Giants' most experienced cornerback, was an unfortunate spectator after noticing his chinstrap couldn't properly buckle as he left the halftime locker room. While the equipment staff fixed the problem, Jackson was tethered to the sideline as Miami drove 75 yards in three plays to start the second half.
Ideally, Jackson would have been covering Hill, who instead zoomed past rookie Tre Hawkins on his way to the end zone.
"I put that one on me," Jackson said. "I was getting something fixed with my equipment. When you come out there at half you probably expect it. I'm about to be out there and then some (stuff) happens.
"Just one of those unfortunate events. Getting them to third down and then that happens, that might be one of the craziest scenarios because when I get out there, I'm like, 'Oh, it's third down.' Okay, cool, then everybody gets off the field. You look and see the ball (caught by Hill). So yeah, that's one of the craziest scenarios."
The Dolphins also scored on Tagovailoa's two-yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Waddle on Miami's first possession and Rahem Mostert's two-yard run.
The Giants currently occupy the NFC East cellar and are four games behind division leader Philadelphia. But they will work as hard and climb as high as they can.
"I was never expecting to be in this position," said linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux, who had the Giants' only sack. "I always look at us as a Super Bowl team and when you're not showing that and not doing that, there's a lot of questions that come about. So just continuing to stay hungry and stay humble."
"Can only take one day at a time," Daboll said. "So, that's what we'll try to do."