Granted the New York Giants losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars in an ugly slugfest where defense mostly ruled (and for Giants purposes, ruined) the day, a 68-yard touchdown run by rookie running back Saquon Barkley in the fourth quarter showed the Giants and their fans the game-changing athleticism they thought they were getting when New York drafted him with the number two overall selection in April’s draft.
In other words, Barkley reinforced the notion that the Giants made a great selection and that he is indeed the real deal.
While some NFL pundits and analysts opined the Giants should have drafted a franchise quarterback with the second overall pick considering Eli Manning is in his twilight, Barkley— with one breath-taking run— put a lot of fears to bed.
And what a run it was.
Barkley showed some sizzling moves in alluding three would-be Jaguar tacklers before heading down the right sideline and breezing past the Jaguars’ secondary while leaving them in his dust.
— New York Giants (@Giants) September 9, 2018
Also, the run pumped some serious life into the Giants.
Prior to the run, Manning threw a pick-six and momentum was seemingly slipping out of New York’s hands. With the Giants losing 20-9 with 11:24 to go in the fourth quarter, things— suffice to say— looked bleak.
And then 45 short seconds later, Barkley immediately gave life to a Giants’ offense that was stuck in neutral. Brand new ballgame. (It should be noted that Barkley was stuffed on a two-point conversion after the long run). Still, the Giants were only down five points with plenty of time to go.
In a New York minute, MetLife Stadium was rocking and Barkley was playing the role of the Giants possible savior and doing so with moxie and aplomb.
Now to be fair, prior to that electric run Barkley was struggling mightily. Even with that triumphant run, Barkley only added an additional 38 rushing yards on 17 other carries. He finished his day with 106 yards on the ground. Barkley also did fairly well in the passing game, as he hauled in two catches for 22 yards.
The end result was nothing to be ashamed of.
Jacksonville has proven over the last year that they are a defensive juggernaut. The Giants’ beleaguered offensive line also hardly provided Barkley with any openings, as he was stuffed behind the line of scrimmage on multiple occasions.
Regardless, he impressed many people in the process.
“I mean, I knew right away. The first run and the first couple of times I tackled him, I said, ‘This kid has something,'” defensive lineman Calais Campbell said. “Obviously, you see it on tape, but we didn’t get to watch a lot of tape on him. It’s his college tape. Coming into the NFL against a team like ours, and making some of the plays he made, that kid’s going to be special.”
Again, Barkley’s scintillating run was a significant bright spot in an otherwise dull day for the Giants, as Manning threw for just 224 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. For Giants’ head coach Pat Shurmur and offensive coordinator Mike Shula, they witnessed up close and personal the jaw-dropping play-making ability that Barkley can bring to this offense.
For an offense that hasn’t had a game-changing running back in years, Barkley’s presence in this offense is vitally necessary for the Giants to go anywhere this season.
Once Barkley gets his rhythm fully down—remember he missed almost all of the preseason with a hamstring injury— and gets acclimated to his surroundings, watch out.
He will certainly have better days ahead. With Barkley getting his feet wet and showing the world his whole skill set, that type of run will do wonders for his confidence moving forward.
While on the whole, it was an inauspicious start to the 2018 season for the Giants, to see Barkley show the Giants and their fans what he is truly capable of is a crucial takeaway from this game.
With the Dallas Cowboys and their suspect rush defense on tap next Sunday, Barkley should be able to build on his debut and really jumpstart the offense. How he follows up his performance on Sunday will be very telling.
Along with Odell Beckham Jr. (who also had a great game on Sunday with 11 receptions for 111 yards), Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, the weapons are clearly there for Manning to make this an exciting year in East Rutherford.
The full package of skills that Barkley possesses will only fortify the Giants’ offense and he showed in one magnificent play how he can transform the franchise from pretenders to possible contenders.