Reporters waiting to enter the Giants’ locker room after Sunday’s 34-27 loss to the Jets temporarily were stopped at the door to make way for a shirtless man with a towel over his head who was leaving to cross the corridor and enter the X-ray room.
Wait, wasn’t that Saquon Barkley?
It was, but when the star running back later was asked about that visit, he said simply, “Next question.”
Barkley was not in a chatty mood in general, which was understandable in light of a sixth consecutive loss and a horrific statistical line: 13 carries for a total of 1 yard, with a long of 3 yards. (He also caught five passes for 30 yards.)
Asked if he still is feeling the effects of the ankle injury he suffered in Week 3, he did not offer a direct response, saying merely, “Just have to get better.”
Barkley sought to credit the Jets, to the point that he said he went to their defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, after the game, shook his hand and said, “Good job.”
The Giants’ offensive line was makeshift because of injuries, but its members took Barkley’s poor numbers personally.
Said guard Will Hernandez: “It’s completely not what we’re about. We don’t do that. It’s completely in our control to change that, and we can change it.”
Eric Smith, who filled in at tackle after Nate Solder left with a concussion, said, “It’s nothing to go home and smile about. As a lineman, that’s [expletive].”
Running on empty was not Barkley’s only problem. He failed to block Jets safety Jamal Adams on a play in which Adams stripped the ball from quarterback Daniel Jones and ran 25 yards for a touchdown.
“Jamal Adams beat me, simple as that,” Barkley said. “He’s a heck of a player, All-Pro . . . I have to be better there.” (Barkley and Adams exchanged jerseys after the game.)
In his four games back since missing three with an ankle injury, Barkley’s rushing totals have gone from 72 yards to 64 to 28 to 1. Concerns have risen that he has not looked like his usual explosive self over the past month.
Coach Pat Shurmur acknowledged that Barkley got “banged around pretty good” and said that likely played a part in his lack of production on Sunday.
When someone noted that it is “very unusual” for a player of his caliber to rush for only 1 yard, Shurmur said, “Yeah, it’s very unusual of anybody’s caliber in any game.”