Less than a year after ending playoff drought, struggles return for the Giants

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The heightened expectations that accompanied the New York Giants into their second season under Brian Daboll have turned to frustration, disappointment and even anger in some instances.

The hope of building off last season with a more talented roster, making the playoffs again and even challenging for a fifth Super Bowl title are all but over.

The Giants' chances were dimmed with a 1-5 start and ended in the past two weeks with consecutive losses to the Jets in overtime and 30-6 to the Raiders in Las Vegas on Sunday.

Coupled with a win over Washington, the Giants have a 2-7 record and they will be without their top two quarterbacks.

Backup Tyrod Taylor went on injured reserve last week after hurting his rib cage, while Daniel Jones, who was returning after missing three weeks with a neck injury, tore his right ACL Sunday and will be out for the season.

"We’re 2-7, still got a job to do, still got to come to work, still have to compete, and that’s going to be the mindset until we’re mathematically out of it,” running back Saquon Barkley said Sunday.

Injuries have been the Giants' biggest foe this season. Star left tackle Andrew Thomas missed seven games with a hamstring injury. Barkley missed three with a sprained right ankle.

Offense linemen John Michael Schmitz (shoulder), Evan Neal (ankle), Ben Bredeson (concussion), Josh Ezeudu (toe), Shane Lemieux (pectoral), edge rusher Azeez Ojulari (ankle), kicker Graham Gano (knee) and tight end Darren Waller (hamstring) have all missed time.

Thomas said injuries are part of the game. Learning to deal with them and not surrendering to them is another, he said.

“I would say it’s easy if you are not a true competitor,” he said. “I know the guys in the locker room, I know speaking for myself that we love the game of football, so obviously it’s not the greatest situation as far as playoffs, and things down the road but we are just focusing on getting better and putting the best tape we can out for the next game.”

WHAT’S WORKING

The most consistent part of the team was the defense, until Sunday. They had held the past three opponents to 34 points led by defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux and inside linebacker Bobby Okereke. The unit made quarterback Aidan O'Connell look very good in his second career start.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

The offense has scored a league-low 101 points. That's an 11.2 point average. They have only scored more than 16 once, in a 31-28 comeback win over Arizona in Week 2. They will head into the next three games without Jones and Taylor.

Tommy DeVito, an undrafted player, seemingly is their quarterback. Recently signed Matt Barkley is his backup.

The offensive line is finally getting healthy, but it gave up eight sacks to the Raiders on Sunday with Thomas and Neal back in the lineup.

STOCK UP

DT Dexter Lawrence. Coming off his first Pro Bowl season, Lawrence has been the catalyst for Wink Martindale's defense. Facing double teams more often than not, Lawrence has shut down opposing running games and put pressure on quarterbacks every game.

Honorable mentions to Thibodeaux (8 1/2 sacks) and Barkley, who had gained 502 yards on 126 carries in six games.

STOCK DOWN

Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka. Kafka got a few interviews about vacant NFL head coaching jobs after New York made the playoffs last season, ending a five-year drought.

In eight of the nine games this season, the offense has scored 16 points or fewer, including 10 points or fewer in five games.

INJURIES

Waller (hamstring) and Taylor (ribs) are eligible to return from injured reserve next month, while Ojulari may be back sooner. ... Neal (ankle) and CB Adoree Jackson (concussion) were hurt Sunday.

KEY NUMBER

0. The Giants have not scored a first-quarter touchdown all season.

NEXT STEPS

The Giants' second half of the season starts at Dallas (5-3), which beat them 40-0 in the season opener. New York also has two games with the NFC East-leading Eagles (8-1) and one with the NFC South-leading Saints (5-4).

Also on the schedule are Washington (4-5), New England (2-7), Green Bay (3-5) and the Rams (3-6).

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl