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Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has meltdown against Rams

Daniel Jones of the Giants walks to the

Daniel Jones of the Giants walks to the sidelines after throwing an interception late during the second quarter against the Rams at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

By almost any measure, Daniel Jones’ season has been a story of resilience, of perseverance and of legitimate improvement.

He commanded the huddle. Protected the football. Made the completions in tight windows that are required of a capable NFL quarterback.

And then came Sunday, a day when Jones did everything he’d worked so tirelessly to avoid. A day when it all came undone.

He held the ball too long.

He didn’t feel the backside pressure.

He threw recklessly.

He was as bad in a 38-11 shellacking by the Rams as he’d been at any point last season, when questions surfaced about his long-term viability as the Giants’ quarterback.

Excuses? Yes, there are some.

For starters, he’d missed most of practice during the week while recovering from a concussion that left him wobbling back to the huddle in the second quarter of last week’s blowout loss to the Cowboys.

He was victimized by several injuries to key teammates, including running back Saquon Barkley and wide receiver Kenny Golladay, both of whom missed the game.

Left tackle Andrew Thomas left early against the Rams because of an ankle issue. Emerging rookie receiver Kadarius Toney’s ankle injury flared during the first series, and he didn’t return.

Jones’ final numbers reflected the ugliness of a demoralizing loss that buried the 1-5 Giants deeper into last place in the NFC East. He was 29-for-51 for 242 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. He was sacked four times. And he fumbled twice, losing one at his own 16 to set up the Rams’ second touchdown in what quickly turned into a rout. His 44.7 rating was the second lowest of his career.

"Had a good plan and just didn’t execute it," Jones said. "Obviously, the turnovers were a big deal and that set us back."

It didn’t help that the meltdown happened on an afternoon when the Giants celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their Super Bowl XLVI championship. With Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning in the house to enjoy cheers for what they did a decade ago, Joe Judge and Jones failed to live up to that legacy in an embarrassing loss at MetLife Stadium.

Jones insisted afterward that he was OK and that the concussion was not a factor in his performance.

"Obviously, the play on the goal line [against Dallas], got the wind knocked out of me and I stumbled," he said, describing the frightening aftermath of a helmet-to-helmet hit. "When I got back to the locker room, I passed all the tests. Went through the week and took it a day at a time and passed all the tests. I understand the situation, I did stumble there, so went through [the protocols] and passed the test. I didn’t have any other symptoms."

And in case you were wondering if he was disappointed that Judge kept him out there in the fourth quarter when the game was out of hand, Jones said he was glad the coach let him try to do whatever he could to help show there was some fight left in him.

"I appreciated the opportunity to be out there and compete," he said. "Coach Judge preaches 60 minutes."

Jones did allow that the injuries to other players may have factored into the offense’s problems, especially Toney’s extended absence.

"It’s going to have some effect when you go into a week planning and setting things up," he said. "But guys came in and did well. We have a lot of guys who can make plays. I’ve got to do a better job of finding them. [Toney] has been playing at a high level. He’s a big part of this. We were planning on it, but we have to do a better job of getting the ball to the other guys."

Jones took the blame on the turnovers, but Judge wasn’t willing to assign fault to his quarterback alone. And he stood by him as vigorously after Sunday’s embarrassment as he did after his marvelous comeback in New Orleans two weeks ago.

"We’re going to have success with Daniel," he said. "This is a guy that’s made a tremendous amount of improvement for us."

Judge obviously has a lot of other things to worry about, and until Sunday, Jones was not one of them. He appeared to have resolved his turnover problem; he had only one interception — on a desperation heave at the end of the first half against New Orleans — before throwing a hat trick of picks against the Rams. And he’d fumbled only three times combined — losing one — in his previous games this season.

We’ll therefore call this clunker against the Rams a one-off and give Jones the benefit of the doubt. But when your team is 1-5 for a second straight season and you’re in the thick of the difficult schedule the Giants currently face, you take nothing for granted.

If Jones can get some help once some or all his injured teammates return, then he’ll stand a better chance of getting this mess in reasonable shape.

But bad teams find ways of playing badly, so nothing is off the table in this, yet another sad season for the Giants and their fans.

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