Saquon Barkley appears to be ready to be the player that he was at Penn State and during his rookie year with the New York Giants. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft had his way with the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
The top regular-season team in the AFC in 2021, and the defense with the eighth best weighted DVOA in the sport, had no answer for Barkely. He averaged 9.1 yards per carry and still managed to haul in six passes. It was Barkley who put the Giants’ first points on the board with a third-quarter touchdown.
It was also Barkley who would finally give the Giants the lead late in the fourth quarter. He was the go-to player throughout that final drive, and the shovel pass he caught for a two-point conversion, as Big Blue’s new coach Brian Daboll decided to go for the win instead of tie, which would lead the Giants the 21-20 win.
“When we scored, I was on the field and I saw him put up the ‘two’ sign and we kind of made eye contact,” Barkley said after the game. “He gave me that look, and I knew what the play was going to be. He gave me that look and I kind of looked back at him and said, ‘Fuck yeah.’
“We called it up and we were able to execute the play and get in. [Daboll’s] a man of his word. He told us he’s going to be aggressive. He told us he’s going to lean on the players to make plays. In that situation, he did exactly that. When you have a coach like that, it’s definitely going to make you go out there and fight for him and execute in those situations.”
Last year’s best AFC regular-season team would then take less than a minute to get into field-goal range, even with star wideout A.J. Brown now playing for the Philadelphia Eagles. The Titans had a chance to close out the late afternoon window of games with a victory, but as was the theme of the day, it was a missed 47-yard field goal that resulted in Daboll’s first victory as an NFL head coach.