Brian Daboll seized the moment. It was an opportunity for the Giants’ first-year head coach to put his imprint on the team and further establish a culture of fearlessness and trust.
With the Giants trailing 13-0 at halftime versus the Tennessee Titans on the road on Sunday, they came within one point of a tie on a one-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Daniel Jones to tight end Daniel Myarick with 1:06 remaining in the game. Down 20-19, Daboll decided to go for two instead of the much safer extra-point kick to even the score and play for overtime.
The former Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator and the Giants’ current OC, Mike Kafka, dialed up a short underhand toss from Jones to a resurgent Saquon Barkley. The running back appeared to be stopped by three Titans defenders but nimbly eluded them and lunged into the end zone for the go-ahead score. The Giants’ defense held the Titans and they came away with an inspiring 21-20 victory.
“Going for the win. We’re going to be aggressive. That’s what we want to do. That’s the mindset I want the players to have,” said Daboll after the Giants went 1-0 to open the 2022 campaign. “I thought that was the right decision. You’re an inch away or whatever it was. I trust Saquon [Barkley].
“I grabbed a couple of defensive players,” Daboll recounted, “and busted their tails out there. I went up to some of the offensive guys that weren’t out there too and I said, ‘Hey, we got the ball, wherever it was.’ I said, ‘If we score, I’m going for two, you guys good with that?’ And they said, ‘F-yeah.’”
Daboll’s daring deservedly earned him a game ball from his team as it was a strong message he sent to an organization and fanbase that has bitterly endured losing for the better part of the past decade. Another memo was transmitted by Barkley. He let the football world know that he is still one of the elite athletes alive and when healthy is as good as there is at his position in the NFL.
After battling injuries and inadequate offensive line over the past two seasons, Barkley looked every bit like the player that came out of Penn State and had a sensational 2018 season that earned him NFL Rookie of the Year honors. Against the Titans, Barkley rushed for 164 yards on 18 carries and had six receptions for 30 yards.
“It’s just one game, to be honest. That’s how I look at it,” said Barkley. “Obviously, at the end of the day, I’m excited to get the win. Personally, just got to keep coming in. Something that just keeps tickling me that Coach [Daboll] says, ‘Just enjoy the process.’
“And that’s something I’ve been battling in the last few years with rehabbing and injuries. That’s been my mindset. No matter what, win, loss, tie,” he continued, “I just want to come here with the same mindset and just keep enjoying the process and come to work every single day. We had a great week of practice and no matter what the result was going to be, we can’t let that alter what happens this week. So we’ve got to keep grinding and keep leaning on each other.”
The Giants host the 0-1 Carolina Panthers at MetLife Stadium on Sunday (1p.m.) in their home opener.