Saquon Barkley came into the game on the edge of equaling a 35-year-old record.
Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson set the NFL’s rookie mark for most games with at least 100 yards from scrimmage when he did it 13 times for the Los Angeles Rams in 1983.
Barkley has been almost automatic in his debut season, doing it 12 times in the first 13 games, including the previous six entering Sunday’s game against Tennessee at MetLife Stadium. But Dickerson’s record still stands alone, at least for another week.
The Giants and the Titans were playing in the rain, so the conditions dictated a more ground-oriented game. The Giants have adhered to that more in the second half of the season anyway, and Barkley ran for at least 100 yards in the previous four games.
But on Sunday, there was nowhere to run. The receiving didn’t go well for him, either. Tennessee stuffed Barkley on the way to a 17-0 win, dropping the Giants to 5-9 and eliminating them from the NFC wild-card race.
“They had a great game plan over there,” Barkley said. “Give credit where credit is due. They came out and they made more plays than we made.”
The former Penn State star was held to 31 yards on 14 carries, including 17 on one run. Eli Manning, who didn’t have injured receiver Odell Beckham Jr., targeted Barkley 10 times but found him on only four occasions, good for just 25 yards.
“When we know we don’t have one of our better players on the field, we have to be able to run the football, especially in these conditions,” receiver Russell Shepard said.
Barkley’s 56 yards from scrimmage were 38 below his previous season low. The 31 rushing yards were three above his season low. Barkley said the Titans tried “to disguise blitzes and run blitzes.”
Tackle Nate Solder said “they had plenty of guys up in there” at the line of scrimmage. Teams know that Barkley’s ability to run makes this offense go, so they try to shut him down and force the Giants to throw. “Yeah, I think that’s everyone’s plan, honestly,” Solder said.
Despite the emphasis on stopping the run, Barkley said the Giants have “still got to make plays.”
Derrick Henry did, carrying 33 times for 170 yards and two touchdowns for Tennessee. The Giants ran for 47 yards overall — 14 by punter Riley Dixon — and only 2.8 per carry.
Guard Jamon Brown called the lack of holes a “slap in the face” for the offensive line.
“I think every man on this offensive line takes that personally just because when you look at our offense, you look at our success, it starts with running the ball,” Brown said.
Barkley has run for 1,155 yards and totaled 1,809 from scrimmage. He’s 191 away from becoming the third rookie in NFL history to reach 2,000, joining Dickerson and Edgerrin James. Barkley has two games left to chase that and the Dickerson record for games with at least 100 from scrimmage. But that isn’t first on his agenda.
“That doesn’t really matter to me, a rookie record, a hundred yards or not,” he said. “The thing that matters to me the most is getting a win.”
14 CARRIES 33
31 YARDS 170
2.2 AVG. 5.2
17 LONG GAIN 22
0 TDs 2