Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) celebrates his touchdown in...

Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) celebrates his touchdown in overtime to defeat the Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. The Giants won 27-21. Credit: AP/Brett Duke

NEW ORLEANS — After a clamorous month of noise surrounding disappointments from the Giants, an uproar over play-calling and game strategies, hullabaloos over costly injuries and sideline spats, and finally, on Sunday, a visit to the loudest environment in the NFL, a supercharged Superdome, the Giants finally heard the sweetest sound of the season.


Saquon Barkley’s 6-yard touchdown run 5:06 into overtime gave the Giants a 27-21 victory over the Saints that shut everyone up, from fans in the building to critics stretched far and wide.

It was the Saints’ first game in the Superdome this season because of damage in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Ida.

"You could hear a pin drop," receiver Kenny Golladay said of the actual volume in the dome dropping from 11 to zero the moment Barkley crossed the goal line. It was so eerily deflated that referee Brad Rogers hardly needed his microphone to announce that, upon review, the touchdown stood and the game was over.

After losing two straight games on last-second plays, the Giants finally figured out how to serve that kind of heartbreak to someone else. It took just about everything they had — a career day from Daniel Jones (402 yards passing), the rebirth of Barkley, who scored the two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and beyond that helped the team erase an 11-point deficit, a breakout game for rookie Kadarius Toney (six catches for 78 thrilling yards), and even a change in strategy, calling the overtime coin toss heads instead of tails — but they pulled it out.

"It felt great," Jones said. "We needed a win. There was a high sense of urgency to do that."

It was a game in which several streaks ended for the Giants. Graham Gano missed what should have been an easy 35-yard field goal in the first quarter to snap his franchise-record string of successful kicks at 37 straight. Jones chucked a desperation pass into the end zone on the last snap of the first half that was intercepted, ending his run of 124 straight passes without a pick and giving him his first of the season. Rookie Azeez Ojulari had his first game without a sack after recording one in his first three NFL games.

The most important one that came to an end, though? The losing streak. It stalled after three straight to open the season.

The Giants avoided a second consecutive year saddled with an 0-4 start. Being 1-3 isn’t great, but it’s a lot better than what things could have been for them heading into a game against division-leading Dallas next week.

"We have a special group," Barkley said. "I say that every week. It’s not really easy to believe me after a loss, but I think that locker room is starting to believe in each other and believe in what we have. We just have to keep moving."

When the Saints (2-2) embarked on an 11-play, 63-yard drive that ate up more than six minutes and ended with a second TD run by Taysom Hill that made it 21-10 with 12:09 left in regulation, it seemed as if this game was going to join its earlier siblings in the loss column.

Midway through the fourth, C.J. Board returned a punt 26 yards to the Giants’ 46, and on the next play, Jones hit Barkley on a 54-yard wheel route to make it 21-16 with 6:52 left. It was a play that Barkley said he and Jones cooked up after seeing how cornerback Marshon Lattimore was covering him out of the backfield.

Barkley caught the ball down the left side, then cut inside at the 15 to find the end zone. Jones ran in a two-point conversion on a quarterback draw to pull the Giants within a field goal at 21-18.

They got that field goal from Gano on a 48-yarder with 31 seconds left that tied it at 21 and set the stage for overtime.

When Jabrill Peppers, already sidelined with a hamstring injury, called heads and the Giants won the toss, it sent a jolt through the team.

"I looked down the sideline and the whole group was ready to go and I knew at that moment that we had to feed off that energy," Toney said.

Said Barkley: "We knew we were going to win the game."

There certainly were clutch plays on the game-winning nine-play drive, such as the 17-yard pass from Jones to John Ross, the receiver fresh off IR who also had a 52-yard touchdown catch in the first half; an 18-yard catch-and-run by Barkley on second-and-14 that helped overcome an illegal-substitution penalty, and a 23-yard pass to Golladay that brought the Giants to the 6 to set up Barkley’s touchdown.

These still are the 2021 Giants, though, so it was not that simple. Barkley’s fumble nearly sunk the whole game three plays before his touchdown.

"I think I owe Kyle Rudolph dinner," he said of the reward for the tight end recovering it.

And there was what turned out to be the final play, the run up the middle by Barkley, who pushed and thrashed his way to the goal line for what was ruled a touchdown on the field but required video confirmation that he’d crossed the goal line. Even during that time between the play and the official result, the Giants were bracing for bad news.

Joe Judge said he was at midfield trying to figure out what play he wanted to call if Barkley had been ruled down and the Giants had to run a second-and-goal snap. He never needed to make that decision.

"When it’s finally done, we walk back to the locker room and hug and high-five and all that junk," Judge said.

And, for the first time this season, make some joyous noise of their own.

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