ATLANTA — Saquon Barkley was upset about the loss, and also about his role in it.
“Honestly, personally, I didn’t play a good game,” the rookie running back said after the Giants' 23-20 loss to the Falcons on Monday night. “First half, second half, I wasn’t the player that I usually am. I have to continue to grow there, continue to develop.”
He wound up with 94 yards from scrimmage, the first game of his career that he’s been held to fewer than 100 (and coming up one game shy of tying the record for consecutive games with at least 100 to start an NFL career, which was set last year by Kareem Hunt of the Chiefs). He had 43 rushing yards and a touchdown on 14 carries and caught a team-high nine passes for 51 yards. He also ran for a two-point conversion with five seconds left in the game.
“It wasn’t up to my standards,” Barkley said. “I feel like I didn’t break enough tackles. The whole game was off all around. I could have done better. I was falling. I just wasn’t myself.”
Barkley wasn’t given much to work with in terms of blocking in the running game. As far as the passing went, he likely would have reached 100 overall if not for a botched play early in the fourth quarter. On third-and-2 from the Giants' 33, Eli Manning dropped back and had time to look downfield but instead swung a short pass out to his right for Barkley. The only people in front of him were Atlanta defenders. The Giants had run a screen with no screen for a loss of 8 yards, which resulted in a punt.
The Giants thought the Falcons were in man coverage instead of the zone they were in on the play.
“It’s frustrating,” Barkley said. “It was frustrating in general.”