Everything was going in the Giants’ favor on Sunday. The Washington Football Team’s 41-16 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving shifted the fluid standings of the feeble NFC East, paving the way for the Giants to claim first place with a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on the road.
Yet perilously, on the Giants’ first offensive drive of the second half, locked at 10-10 with the Bengals, quarterback Daniel Jones injured his right hamstring on a 7-yard scramble. He played two more snaps before heading to the sidelines to be evaluated. The 23-year-old Jones returned on the Giants’ next possession for two plays, but clearly was unable to push-off his right leg and once again left the field, this time permanently, replaced by 34-year-old veteran backup Colt McCoy.
McCoy did just enough to help the Giants earn a razor thin 19-17 win and improve their record to 4-7. Although the Giants and Washington are both 4-7 and have the same 3-2 mark versus division opponents, the Giants’ two wins over Washington this season––in Weeks 6 and 9––gives them an edge in the tie-breaker determinant. The 3-7-1 Eagles are in third place and the 3-8 Cowboys are last.
Jones’s ailing hamstring is now a significant factor in the race for the division title. He had an MRI on Monday but the severity of his injury had not been revealed by the Giants as of early yesterday (Wednesday). Yet it is highly unlikely Jones will be under center for Week 13 in Seattle this Sunday when the Giants face future Hall of Fame quarterback Russell Wilson and the surging 8-3 Seahawks, leaders of the NFC West. Following the Seahawks, the Giants host the Arizona Cardinals, who are currently 6-5, and their dynamic quarterback Kyler Murray, at MetLife Stadium on December 13.
“There are actually more question marks than answers right now, to be honest with you,” said Giants coach Joe Judge on a Zoom on Monday. “I couldn’t get an answer on if it’s one week or more than one week right now. I’m not qualified and, to be honest, the doctors I talked to today don’t have a crystal ball to look through, either.
“I would say this, this is a tough dude. He is a tough guy. He is a very competitive guy and he wants to be out there. If we gave him the option today, he would jump out there, I’m sure, with duct tape on his leg and try to go at it. That being said, we have to give this guy a few days to get out there on the field and see if he can move around. See if he can do something.”
Jones, in his second-year in the NFL after being drafted No. 6 overall by the Giants in 2019, was playing the most efficient football of his young career. Plagued by turnovers since taking over the starting spot from the now retired Eli Manning in Week 3 last season, Jones has played ten and a half straight quarters without coughing up the ball, his longest streak as a pro. Prior to his newfound ball security, Jones had thrown 21 interceptions and lost 17 fumbles. His 18 total fumbles in his rookie campaign was the fifth highest in NFL history.
In addition to Jones’s injury, the Giants placed starting outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell on injured reserve with a calf injury. It will be a considerable void for the Giants to fill as Fackrell was second on the team in sacks with three, trailing defensive tackle Leonard Williams, who has six.