Saquon Barkley isn’t just a running back, he’s a fan of running backs. So of course he enjoyed watching the Titans’ Derrick Henry ramble for a 99-yard touchdown last week against the Jaguars.
“It might be one of the most impressive runs in NFL history,” Barkley said on Wednesday.
It certainly was the longest one Barkley has ever seen. The only other 99-yard run was by Tony Dorsett.
But Barkley said it did not bump his overall favorite: Marshawn Lynch’s 67-yard touchdown run in the 2011 playoffs for the Seahawks.
“My personal opinion? I like Beast Mode’s run still,” Barkley said. “But [Henry’s] is up there.”
The Giants will face Henry on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Henry repeatedly utilized the stiff-arm on the 99-yard run, and while the ferocity of the play may have been intimidating, it also can serve as a teaching tool for the Giants.
First, it showed them not to try to tackle Henry up high. Second, nothing gets the attention of the defensive room like showing explosive plays that just happened.
So as defensive coordinator James Bettcher showed his team clips of the Henry run – just as he showed them clips of Adrian Peterson's 90-yard run a week earlier – it was with a clear message: Don’t let this team’s next opponent be watching us like this!
“When that stuff’s on tape, it’s certainly a great example about maintaining gap integrity, playing with great leverage and finding a way to get someone on the ground when you’ve got to tackle him in space,” Bettcher said.
“You’ve got to stop him like you do Adrian Peterson or any marquee, downhill, hard-running back,” Pat Shurmur said. “Good run defense, it takes the whole team to fit the runs properly, and then when he’s in your area or in your gap, you’ve got to get him on the ground. We’ve got to do a really good job of fitting the runs, and we’ve got to do a good job of tackling, and I think it’s a team thing.”
What made Henry’s run so impressive, Barkley said, was the combination of power and speed.
“I think he was doing that every single week at Alabama,” Barkley said. “He’s a big back. A lot of people don’t realize how fast he is, and when you get a guy that big rolling at that speed, he was just throwing guys off of him like it was high school. That was definitely a very impressive run.”
Not that Barkley wants to see it happen again.
“Congratulations to him,” he said. “But hopefully he can [skip] that for this week and not bust out any 99-yard runs against us.”
Notes & quotes: Tight end Rhett Ellison (ankle), who was limited in Thursday’s practice, told Newsday he expects to play on Sunday. Ellison’s blocking has been a key component in the Giants' improved running game during the past month … Rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta’s 0-for-5 debut on Sunday didn’t seem to impress the Giants’ quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator. Asked if there was anything encouraging about the performance, Mike Shula said: “Well, he got experience.”