Daniel Jones will not go undefeated in his career.
After he became the first Giants rookie quarterback to begin his career 2-0 as a starter since Phil Simms, the sixth overall pick walked up to the postgame interview podium late Sunday afternoon for the first time after a loss. It came at the hands of the Vikings, who earned a 28-10 victory and a winning record (3-2), something the Giants had hoped to achieve heading into Week 5.
“I think he showed me Week 3, again, his toughness and his poise,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “He made some good throws under duress at times. Then there were a couple he was just off on. The one that comes to mind is the Shep (Sterling Shepard) throw in the end zone. I think that’s a touch. We talk about making that a facemask throw, it was just a touch high. But there are a lot of things. There are situations where I wish I could’ve given him better plays. But I thought he battled, and that’s why he’s going to be a good player for us for a long time.”
IT WAS OVER WHEN: Dan Bailey made a 45-yard field goal to give Minnesota a 28-10 lead with 4:09 left in the game. Anthony Barr intercepted Jones on the ensuing possession to seal the Vikings’ first victory over the Giants at MetLife Stadium.
MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: Bailey’s field goal came on the heels of two scoring threats from the Giants that could have made it a one-possession game with plenty of time left. They both fell short because of a sack. First, Jones was taken down on a fourth-and-two from the Vikings three-yard line. On the next possession, he was brought down on a third-and-eight and couldn’t connect with Sterling Shepard in the end zone on fourth down.
Those were two of many missed opportunities, which are tough to overcome against an elite defense. The Giants failed to convert on two trips to the red zone and on all three of their fourth-down attempts. The offense also couldn’t build off Jabrill Peppers’ forced fumble at the one-yard line in the second quarter. On the next play, Jon Hilliman was tackled in the end zone for a safety.
“I think when you play a good defense like Minnesota you need to convert those,” Jones said of the misses to Shepard. “I will certainly look at those, but I have to be better in those situations and we have to take advantage of those. You can’t afford to miss those against a team like that.”
Jones added: “We have a lot of confidence in our receivers. Up against anyone, I think we match up well. Like I said, we had the opportunity, we had the chances. I have to do a better job of making sure we convert those chances. We are going to be aggressive and with every game we play, we are going to stay aggressive.”
INJURIES ARE NO EXCUSE: In his weekly Q&A with Giants.com, Shurmur reiterated what he thinks of using injuries as excuses. “As painful as it is for the person that’s injured and for the team to lose a good player, a really good player,” he said, “it’s an opportunity for other guys to go out and do what they’re on this team to do. That’s sort of been the internal message all along. We don’t make excuses, and we don’t let other people make excuses for us. For them to repeat that and believe it, I think, is a good thing.”
That was when he knew the Giants would be playing without star running back Saquon Barkley and three inside linebackers (Alec Ogletree, Tae Davis and Ryan Connelly, who was placed on injured reserve with a torn ACL). The situation worsened on game day. Outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter was inactive after the Giants listed him as questionable with a neck injury. Then Wayne Gallman, after he made his second consecutive start in place of Barkley, left in the first quarter with a concussion.
WHAT THE LOSS MEANS FOR THE GIANTS: They entered with a chance for their first three-game winning streak since 2016, but they left with a 2-3 record and will face the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots in Foxborough on Thursday night. New England improved to 5-0 Sunday with a 33-7 victory over Washington.
“It’s the next opportunity,” Jones said. “We are looking forward to the quick turnaround and the fact that we get to play four days from now. It’s a short week, so I think we are excited, it gives us a chance to get back out there and correct some of the things we need to correct.”
WHAT THE WIN MEANS FOR THE VIKINGS: Minnesota alternated wins and losses for the first five games, a net of 3-2 heading into a Week 6 visit from Philadelphia. The Vikings dealt with their share of external and internal noise this past week, mostly in regard to their offense. Totaling nearly 500 yards of offense and 28 points in a victory should ease the concerns for at least another week in the rollercoaster that is the NFL season.
“If we didn’t play well today, we would’ve been pretty hot,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “But there’s a good bunch of guys in that locker room that go out and compete and fight, and fight together, so it was important today, but it’s important for us to get some wins on the road, it’s important for us to go out and play the way we did, and hopefully we can continue to get better and not make some of the mistakes we made today.”