For a while, it looked like the New York Giants might just pull off the upset against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Giants maintained a lead over the Steelers for most of the first half and were in striking distance for most of the third quarter.
Nobody realistically expected the Giants to win, but they certainly have some things from Monday night’s game to be proud of and use as a foundation for growth.
Their running game, unfortunately, was not one of those things.
Despite showing a clear desire to run the ball — and do so effectively — early in the game, success on the ground just wasn’t there against a stout Steelers’ defense. The Giants finished with all of 29 yards on 20 total rushing attempts, and only 6 of those yards came from star running back Saquon Barkley. Barkley was frequently met behind the line of scrimmage and at one point had -7 total yards. All told, he had 6 yards on 15 carries, or 0.4 yards per carry.
“I’m not really too concerned with the stats,” Barkley said. “You have to give credit where credit is due. They have a great defense, especially their defensive front. They made some plays and we weren’t able to win the game today.”
As far as Barkley is concerned, there’s only one remedy for a game like Monday’s, and that is to go back to the drawing board. Barkley didn’t want to lay any of his poor performance at the feet of his offensive line and instead praised them for their fight.
“We just have to go back and watch the film and learn. Something I’m proud about with the team today is the way we fought, especially when we were hit with adversity. We just have to go back and watch film, continue to believe in each [other] and come ready to work next week and get ready for Chicago.”
Barkley being met behind the line of scrimmage and having runs for no gain (or a loss), are nothing new. But the Giants are used to Barkley at least being able to make a defender, or multiple defenders, miss and conjuring magic out of a broken play.
But this time the Giants’ rebuilt offensive line simply wasn’t up to the task of stopping Pittsburgh’s defensive front or even giving Barkley a breath of a chance. Pullers missed their blocks, defenders beat blockers to their landmarks, and we even saw the Giants’ linemen simply bulled back into the backfield.
But perhaps unsurprisingly, Barkley called himself out for not playing well enough.
“I have to be better, I have to be better for the team. We have to find a way to get the run game going. That’s how I truly believe. I have to go back and watch film to give you an honest answer. I can’t just talk off of emotions,” Barkley said. ‘One thing that just pops in my mind is find a way to get the run game going for this team. I know that’s going to be a key part of our success. I truly believe and I still believe in it. Keep grinding at it, keep working at it and find a way.”
Speaking of emotions, Barkley was caught by the camera in a moment of frustration on the sideline. That emotion is certainly understandable, but seeing Barkley visibly worked up is notable.
“I guess I probably showed a little emotion on my face,” he said. I’m human at the end of the day. At the end of the day, the moral of the story is we didn’t win the game.”
What isn’t surprising is that Barkley put the onus on himself to be better for his teammates and to do everything in his power to help the Giants win.
Barkley said, “That’s the only thing I’m about, trying to find ways to win the game. That’s going to be my whole mindset coming back this week. Getting ready for Chicago, what can we do. what can I do as a player, and as a team to put us in a better position and give us a better chance to win the game.”