Saquon Barkley seemed to be banging his Big Blue helmet against a green-and-white wall, repeatedly running into the Eagles very quickly after getting the ball.
In the late stages of the third quarter at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, the Giants had given up the go-ahead touchdown and Barkley had all of 10 yards on 11 carries. But on the next offensive play, he burst through a crease on the right side and didn’t stop until he had zipped 68 yards into the end zone.
His final statistics: 17 carries for 92 yards, giving him 1,003 for the season. That made him the first player in Giants history to run past the 1,000 mark in each of his first two NFL seasons.
But the Giants fell, 34-17, and finished 4-12, overshadowing that accomplishment in his eyes.
“It don’t mean nothing,” Barkley said. “. . . Four-and-12 — that’s the only thing that matters.”
There was some enjoyment in racing those 68 yards. Barkley raised his arm a little past midfield, knowing that no one was going to catch him. With the extra point, the Giants had tied it at 17.
“It felt good because at the time, we needed a big play,” he said. “I begged for it on the sidelines. The offensive line did a great job of blocking it up and springing me to the second level, and I was able to use my speed and find a way to get to the end zone.”
But there was no outrunning the team’s record.
“You don’t want to be 4-12,” said Barkley, who missed three games along the way with a high ankle sprain. “But no matter if we we’re 4-12 or 8-8, at the end of the day, we’re not going to the playoffs. That’s your whole objective of the season. In the offseason, that’s what you train for is to compete for a championship.”
Coach Pat Shurmur entered the game with uncertainty swirling around his job status, but Barkley said, “I know that we have something special here . . . with the coaching staff . . . I believe in those guys.”
He believed in Eli Manning, too. This probably was Manning’s last game with the Giants.
“I asked for a jersey,” Barkley said. “I was able to get one of his jerseys. I gave him my last jersey of the season this year. I’ve always been a big fan of Eli. Much respect.”