Coming off of their bye-week, facing an opponent with one of the worst records in the NFL, the Giants could have fallen victim to not being laser-focused on the task at hand. They allayed those concerns by taking a 10-0 halftime lead over the Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium, then outscoring the now 1-7-1 Texans 17-13 in the second half to take a 24-16 victory and improve to 7-2 on the season. The Giants have won five of their last six games.
Combined with the Dallas Cowboys’ 31-28 overtime loss to the Green Bay Packers to drop them 6-3, the 7-2 Giants rose to second place in the NFC East going into their Week 11 matchup at home versus the 3-6 Detroit Lions, who defeated the Chicago Bears 31-30 on Sunday. The Giants were powered by the massive and healthy legs of running back Saquon Barkley, who had rushed for 152 yards on a career-high 35 carries.
It has been a year of redemption thus far for Barkley. He entered this season, his fifth in the NFL, at a crossroads having endured multiple debilitating injuries over the previous two seasons that shelved him for 18 of the Giants 33 games. Many close followers of the league were questioning whether Barkley could once again be the explosive player he was in the 2018 season, when he was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year after gaining 1,307 yards and scoring 11 touchdowns, in addition to catching 91 passes for 721 yards and four TDs.
He has answered with a resounding yes. The 25-year-old Barkley leads the NFL in rushing yards with 931 on 198 attempts with six touchdowns. Coupled with the evolution of fourth-year quarterback Daniel Jones as a more prudent decision maker and sturdier protector of the ball—he has just two interceptions and no fumbles lost this season—the Giants’ offense has been efficient in the absence of an abundance of dynamic playmakers.
Jones, who turned 25 last May, registered a 153.3 passer rating against the Lions, like Barkley setting a career high in that statistic. He was 13-17 on pass attempts for 197 yards and two touchdowns. Perhaps most importantly Jones ended the day with no turnovers. In his first three seasons as a pro, the Duke product totaled 29 interceptions and 11 fumbles.
“…You never know what to expect. Each week is a new opportunity, a new challenge that’s presented, and at the end of the day you’ve got to go with a 1-0 mindset, and we were able to do that,” said Barkley on Sunday of his 35 carries and Giants win.
Playing on the final year of his contract, reports surfaced earlier this week that Barkley and the Giants would not have further discussions on a potential new deal until after this season. Barkely contends he will not allow it affect his approach on the field.
“Obviously, we weren’t able to come to an agreement during the bye-week,” said Barkley. “My mindset is just focus on the rest of the season. Next week going against Detroit and knowing when that opportunity comes up again, focus on it then.”