Darren Waller led the Giants with eight catches but was bothered by the one that he didn’t make.
With the Giants in an early 14-point hole, Waller snuck behind cornerback Xavien Howard and was well positioned to score his first touchdown for his new team when he had his fingers on an over-the-shoulder pass near the goal line.
But Howard chopped on Waller’s forearm, the ball fell for an incompletion and the Giants settled for a field goal in what became a 31-16 loss to the Dolphins.
Should Waller have made the catch?
“Absolutely,” the former Pro Bowl tight end said. “He got his arm in there, but that’s a play that has to be made.”
One week after Waller was at a loss for answers as to only getting one target before garbage time in a loss to the Seahawks, he was heavily featured in the game plan and led the Giants with 86 reception yards.
“I felt great about that,” Waller said. “The coaches gave me opportunities, and that’s all you can ask for. There’s certainly ones I have to take advantage of because you don’t know what kind of momentum play that can be in the first half. I’ll be thinking about that one [that got away].”
Xavier McKinney criticized NFL on Fox analyst Jonathan Vilma, who said during the game broadcast that McKinney should have had over-the-top coverage on the 69-yard touchdown catch by Tyreek Hill early in the third quarter.
The Giants’ defense shuffled its alignment right before the snap, with previously benched rookie Tre Hawkins sliding onto Hill while Adoree’ Jackson was out with a broken helmet strap.
“No, it’s not accurate at all,” McKinney said. “Who was on the broadcast?
Told it was Vilma, who was a three-time Pro Bowler and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year during a 10-year career as a linebacker, McKinney said, “Oh, OK, he don’t know what he is talking about then. He don’t know football. He don’t know coverages, clearly.”
In addition to losing Daniel Jones (neck), RG Marcus McKethan (knee), WR Wan’Dale Robinson (cleared from a concussion test) and OLB Azeez Ojulari (ankle) did not return. Ben Bredeson missed a few plays.
The Giants played without RB Saquon Barkley (ankle) LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring), LG Shane Lemieux (groin), C John Michael Schmitz (shoulder) and LB Micah McFadden (ankle).
Jaylon Thomas and Jalen Mayfield, elevated from the practice squad, both played along the patchwork offensive line.
Hill listened to his mother — even though it will cost him some money. He went to the stands to give her the football after his touchdown catch.
“My mom told me before the game, when we were riding over here, ‘I need to be a part of your touchdown celebration today,’ ” Hill said. “I was like, ‘Mama, I’m going to get fined.’ And she was like, ‘I don’t care about that. I just need to be a part of today.’ Like, make it about mama.”
Another Dolphins fan tried to steal the ball meant for Hill’s mother.
“My mom, she’s a bulldog. She’s like, ‘Give me my ball,’ ” Hill said. “I got a flag for it, but it was worth it though. Team Mom all day.”