LAS VEGAS — He went down, then got up and there was a brief moment where maybe it was not going to be a dreadful scenario for Daniel Jones.
“Once I saw he was able to walk I was like, ‘Please just don’t be an ACL,’ ” wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson said.
When Jones takes the field again is the foreboding reality that awaits the 26-year old quarterback and the team that decided to commit to him for four years and $160 million. The belief is he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, leaving after the first play of the second quarter Sunday in what now has to rank as a low point for a group that has experienced too many of them over the past decade.
Add the 30-6 loss to the Raiders inside Allegiant Stadium to the pile of noncompetitive slop the Giants have served up far too often, with the injury to Jones — in his return after missing the three previous games with a neck issue — a Giants nightmare rolled up into a catastrophe.
“It sucks because I know the type of player he is and how much work he puts in,” Saquon Barkley said in a quiet and downcast visitor’s locker room. “And just outside of football, as a friend, seeing anybody go down but seeing one of our best friends go down definitely sucks. It’s tough.”
Coach Brian Daboll said an X-ray of Jones’s right knee came back clean, but it will be the MRI taken on Monday that is expected to confirm the initial reports that it is indeed a torn ACL that would end Jones’ season.
“He worked really hard to get back,” Daboll said. “It’s unfortunate.”
It continues to get worse and worse for the Giants. They are 2-7 and headed nowhere fast, with a Week 10 game coming next, on the road, against the Cowboys, an NFC East rival that sent this moribund season in motion with a 40-0 thrashing in the opener. That set a rotten tone that the Giants have been unable to shake.
Can the Giants win another game? They have Tommy DeVito as their emergency fill-in quarterback and Matt Barkley on the practice squad. It is almost as if all the smarts and good fortune they exhibited in 2022, Daboll’s first season as the head coach, expired, replaced by bad luck, bad performance and badness all around.
“It definitely sucks but you got to be a pro about it,” Barkley said. “Can’t make any excuses. Still got a long season ahead of us. Obviously I’m not happy we’re 2-7 and with everything that’s going on right now.”
It was a 7-0 deficit for the Giants when Jones went out. On the final play of the first quarter, Jones needed to plant his right foot in order to avoid pass-rushing Maxx Crosby. Jones tried to cut inside and nearly collided with tight end Lawrence Cager. He got back to his feet and did some light running on the side during the break at the end of the quarter.
“He said it felt like it buckled,” Daboll said, adding that Jones assured him ‘I’m good, I’m good.’ ”
He was not good.
On the next play, to start the second quarter, Jones took the snap out of the shotgun, tried to backpedal and fell to the grass, stumbling on his own, immediately grabbing for his right knee.
“I saw him jogging up and down the sideline, I knew he was a little banged up,” Robinson said. “After I ran the route and I saw the replay of what happened on the play when he had the drop back I was like ‘That didn’t look good.’ ”
Robinson, as a rookie, tore his ACL on last Nov. 20 and was able to make it back for the start of this season. If this is what awaits Jones, it will be a disastrous start to the four-year deal he signed after helping the Giants go 9-7-1 in 2022, winning a playoff game for the first time since 2011.
Jones did not comment as he exited the locker room.
This meant it was another DeVito game for the Giants, as Tyrod Taylor is on injured reserve with a rib cage injury. It went about as expected. DeVito was 1-for-3 for 11 yards and two interceptions in the first half and steadied himself in the second half. The only points for the Giants came when DeVito got out of the pocket and located Robinson for a 9-yard touchdown pass. That made it 27-6.
Jones, while he was out there, looked shaky and rusty in his first game in a month before he made a premature exit.
“It’s horrible — we just get him back and we lose him again,” right tackle Evan Neal said.
“For him to come back from what he was coming back from and to have an injury, I just couldn’t think of a worse-case scenario for a guy,” left guard Justin Pugh said. “It’s just devastating. I hurt for him.”
This story originally appeared on NYPost