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Barkley says he is back to his “old self” in first game back since injury

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The star running back’s performance was not enough to lift the Giants over the Cardinals

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at New York Giants Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Running back Saquon Barkley told reporters after the New York Giants 27-21 loss to the Arizona Cardinals that he felt like his “old self” out on the rainy, muddy field today at MetLife Stadium. But to him, that does not really matter.

“I didn’t do enough to help my team win,” Barkley said.

In his first game back since suffering from an ankle injury against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 22, Barkley rushed for 72 yards on 18 carries with one touchdown and averaged four yards per carry. He also caught three receptions for 8 yards. His performance was not enough, though, as the Giants lost their third-straight game to drop to 2-5 on the season.

Barkley posted those numbers despite looking hobbled in the second half. At one point, he gingerly jogged off the field to get his ankle re-taped.

“Someone just landed on it,” Barkley said. “That’s kind of part of the healing process with this thing. I just went out real quick, got it taped up and came back and played.”

Even with the apparent aggravation to his ankle, Barkley posted better rushing numbers in the second half than the first. He credits the blocking of the offensive line for creating him with more opportunities.

“We were able to get downhill, even though, I wouldn’t say banged it up, but someone landed it. I knew that was part of the healing process and that’s part of football. You just have to grind it out and I was able to do that. No matter what, if I had a better second half than first, we didn’t win the game, so it doesn’t matter.”

Throughout the game though, Barkley said that he felt like his cutting was up to his normal standards throughout. He said that he was able to make people miss even in situations of negative yardage, which he thinks is a positive sign moving forward.

“I felt like I was running well,” Barkley said. “I think I did a little too much on some stuff, but that’s part of my game. Sometimes it doesn’t work, most of the time it works, so you just have to go watch film ad see what I could do better to help my team win.”

As a whole though, Barkley said that the offense needs to create more opportunities throughout. He said that the Giants need to find a way to score more points than the opposing team. Though New York came back from a 17-point deficit, the eight sacks, one interception and three turnovers did not help create scoring opportunities. Overall, the Giants only scored 14 offensive points off of an Arizona defense that is one of the worst in the league.

“I don’t care if we play the worst defense or the best defense if we won, 3-0, the object of the game is winning football games,” Barkley said. “You have to play complementary football, you have to have three phases of your team playing well. Our defense played well, special teams made some big plays for us, we didn’t make enough plays. We made a lot of plays, but we didn’t make enough because we didn’t put up more points than them.”

One offensive play that sticks out is the draw play on third-and-18 to create a fourth down situation on their own 33-yard line.

“I think it’s a great call,” Barkley said. “We knew we were going to be in two-down territory. It’s third-and-18, they played it well, but if they drop back like most teams do on third and 18, I think you have one of your best playmakers on the field with the ball in his hands and get a one on one. We weren’t able to get a one on one situation, we got three or four yards on it, we still got a positive play.”

Barkley said that he is no longer thinking about potential missed opportunities though as he is already looking down to next week when the Giants travel to Detroit to take on the Lions. Barkley said that the team has to “go back to the drawing board.”

“Learn from what we did, learn from the mistakes because it’s a copy-cat league,” Barkley said. “The things that we messed up or allow to happen in this game, we are probably going to see it again, so we just have to prepare for those and watch game film on them and get better.”

Even with three straight losses, Barkley said that he is not feeling any frustration about the past few weeks or the remainder of the season.

“I know you guys are going to say what you guys want to say about us being 2-5, but our season is not over,” Barkley said. “We still have a positive mindset in this locker room, we always will no matter what. We just have to get ready for the next game.”