JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Larry Donnell was at a loss to explain how he could have done anything differently, lest he risk breaking his neck.
Eli Manning knew exactly what he did wrong, but also was powerless to change the result.
Two massive turnovers later, the Giants found themselves having to explain a seven-game losing streak, with the latest defeat at the hands of a Jaguars team that came into the game at 1-10 and going with a rookie quarterback.
After the Giants built what seemed a commanding 21-point second-quarter lead, they frittered it away in the second half and wound up losing, 25-24, at EverBank Stadium on Sunday.
Manning started off the turnover nightmare on the Giants' first possession of the second half. Dropping back from the Giants' 15, he came under a heavy rush, was sacked by outside linebacker Geno Hayes and fumbled the ball backward. Giants running back Rashad Jennings got a hand on the ball, but it was recovered by linebacker J.T. Thomas in the end zone for a Jaguars touchdown that cut the Giants' lead to 21-10 with 11:13 to play in the third quarter.
"I just had to do a better job," Manning said. "I kind of saw it coming. I thought I had [the ball] in two hands and protected. Just got it knocked out. Got to do a better job holding it down. Can't afford to turn the ball over. Can't afford to put our team in a bad situation."
The situation got worse on Donnell's fumble -- much worse. After the Jaguars pulled to within 21-16 on a late third-quarter touchdown pass from Blake Bortles to Marqise Lee, Manning hit Donnell with a short pass down the right sideline on third-and-15 from the Giants' 43.
Donnell caught the ball, but after being tackled low, he was upended and fell headfirst. Bracing himself, he put one hand on the ground, and the ball came loose. Jaguars cornerback Aaron Colvin recovered the fumble and returned it 41 yards to put Jacksonville ahead 22-21.
"I can't do that," Donnell said. "It's back to the drawing board. When you're upside down and your neck hits the ground . . . It's something I've got to eliminate because it's critical to this team."
Donnell, who also lost a fumble in an earlier loss to the Cowboys in Dallas, said he's not sure how he can improve his technique on this particular play.
"I guess I have to have two guys hitting my legs while I fall on my neck," he said. "I just have to hold on to the football. I don't want to put ourselves in a situation where it hurts us right there. It's a terrible feeling and a terrible situation to be in. Those guys both went for my legs. I'm upside down trying to protect myself and trying to protect the ball at the same time. I've got to hold on to the ball, no matter what."
That wasn't even the Giants' final fumble. They had one last desperation chance at the end, but Manning was sacked and fumbled at the Giants' 9 with 20 seconds to play.