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Barkley says Giants are a better team when they play for each other

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26)

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) is picked up offensive guard Jamon Brown (78) as they celebrate his 78-yard touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Landover, Md. ( Photo Credit: AP/Patrick Semansky

LANDOVER, Md. — The Giants are starting to figure out what needs to happen on the field to win. They’re also learning what it takes in their minds, too.

“We found our why, why we’re playing, and it’s for each other,” running back Saquon Barkley said a few minutes after rushing for 170 yards and a touchdown to lead the Giants to a 40-16 win over the Redskins at FedEx Field. “That’s the message that coach [Pat Shumur] has been trying to get to us throughout the whole year. At the end of the day, all we’ve got is each other.”

The Giants won for the fourth time in  five games since their bye week and moved  to  5-8 after a  1-7 start. Barkley believes the bye week came at just the right time, allowing them to reboot their sense of purpose and revamp the offense.

They're still a long shot to make the playoffs as  a wild-card team, but at least they're not entirely out of the hunt with three games remaining.

“I think that bye week really helped us figure it out,” Barkley said. He added that the players make sure not to listen to outside voices,  whether they be positive or negative.

“Whether you play good or bad,” he said, “they’re going to have something good or bad to say about you anyway. Just focus on each other.”

Shurmur took delight in what he felt was a terrific all-around win against the Redskins (6-7), who have lost four straight since quarterback Alex Smith suffered a season-ending leg injury. The Giants won despite missing wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who missed a game for the first time this season with a quadriceps injury that he apparently aggravated in practice on Friday.

“Teams beat teams,” Shurmur said. “We came down here as a 4-8 team and I feel like we’re getting better. Certainly, we did not start the year the way we wanted to, but I think we’re playing more in a way that’s evidence that we’re getting better and we’re on the right track. A game like today reconfirms what we all believe. If you play hard and you play for the guy next to you, you’re happy for everybody making good plays, it feeds on itself.”

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