NEW ORLEANS – When Saquon Barkley shattered the Superdome’s north end zone plan with 4:54 left in overtime in an unexpectedly 27-21 win over the Saints on Sunday, he bore the fate of a Giants season in his arms.
It was a season for the Giants on the brink as they came to New Orleans at 0-3. They were playing in a hoarse and intimidating atmosphere with a deafening noise at 0-4 and yet another losing season leading nowhere.
So when the 24-year-old Giants backer put Saints leading linebacker Demario Davis on the line of scrimmage and slashed his way through defensive tackle Shy Tuttle on the goal line to Delivering a wonderfully fitting ending to a wild comeback victory, he was a symbol for his team who were in desperate need of a boost of confidence.
Barkley was a symbol of the Giants’ persistence that day, as they trailed 21-10 with seven minutes left of regulation time, forced overtime and saved their season with the win.
His determination during his long and difficult recovery from that torn knee ligament a year ago is a symbol of what Giants coach Joe Judge hopes will be a resilient team.
Barkley looked pedestrian at the start of this match. His first two runs came to nothing. His third barely gained a yard. And his first reception ended in a four-yard loss.
The patented explosiveness that Giants general manager Dave Gettleman said she would one day have Barkley outfitted for one of those golden Hall of Fame jackets was MIA, just like she missed the first three weeks of the season.
For the first three quarters of Sunday, Barkley looked like the lower-back of his Saints counterpart Alvin Kamara, who ran with an explosiveness that always made it seem like he was one missed tackle to take every door to the House.
Kamara finished with 120 rushing yards on 26 carries.
But after what Barkley did to the New Orleans defense in the fourth quarter – first on a dynamic 54-yard TD that reduced the Saints’ lead to 21-18 with 6:52 remaining in regulation, then the match. overtime winner – Kamara would give each of those 120 yards to be 3-1 instead of 2-2.
The way Barkley improved as the match progressed, the way he seemed to gain confidence by planting his surgically repaired right knee into the grass to make big plays, seemed to symbolize how his team found their place in winning their first game. after losing the previous two on the final game.
Yes, the Giants are only 1-3 now, but that victory and the way it was executed changed their narrative significantly – especially a massive showdown with the Cowboys next Sunday in Texas.
Quarterback Daniel Jones (28 of 40 for 402 yards, 2 touchdowns and a Hail Mary INT) put the team on their backs. But Barkley did too, producing 126 yards of scrimmage with touchdowns received and rushed.
And the fact that it was Barkley who scored the starting TD did not escape his teammates.
âI was happy for himâ¦ I was happy for the whole team, but really for him who recovered from his injury last year,â said receiver Kenny Golladay.
âEveryone saw how hard he worked and the adversity he had to overcome,â Judge said. âIt wasn’t a small injury. He’s been through a lot, he kept the team first with everything he’s done and [his teammates] look at this. That’s why he was elected captain by his teammates. ”
Safety Jabrill Peppers said Barkley was the player who scored the winning points “means a lot”, adding: “I was happy to see him finally start to return to his old self.”
Upon receiving 54 touchdown yards in the fourth quarter, Barkley passed Marshon Lattimore, the Saints’ best cornerback, with an inside movement and he made Saints safety Marcus Williams look like a statue on his way to the end zone.
After scoring, Barkley sprinted towards Jones to celebrate.
“We played this game earlier and saw that [Lattimore] was sitting on that road and me and DJ had a conversation that he could be there [again]Barkley said. “It’s pretty cool when you can see things before they happen, and me and he were on the same page.”
The winner of the match, what was the kind of physical and meteoric race that made Barkley the second overall pick in the 2018 Draft?
âPersonally, it really helps me gain the confidence to make a few plays there, especially late in the game,â said Barkley. âEvery week I feel my knee is getting better and better, I’m getting used to it. It definitely helps me build my confidence. ”
This, in turn, is a symbol of the growing confidence of his entire team.