With the New York Giants hosting the Detroit Lions this Sunday at MetLife, who better to flashback to than Lions’ hall-of-famer Barry Sanders? He did things on a football field you could only emulate in your backyard against your cousins. Your younger, smaller cousins. Sanders made full-grown, would-be tacklers miss like they were only children.
Barry dominated the NFL for 10 seasons, on his way to 10 Pro Bowls and 15,269 yards rushing (third-most in league history). Had he not abruptly retired in 1999, he’d likely have passed up Emmitt Smith (18,355) and Walter Payton (16,726) to become the NFL’s all-time leading rusher — Smith played 226 games, Payton 190, Sanders 153.
Of those 153 games, the Giants only had to deal with Sanders on a handful of occasions. Let’s take a look at those five matchups.
In the second game of his career the Giants held Sanders to 57 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries, but Barry got it done in the passing game. He added 96 yards receiving on six catches. The Giants won the game, 24-14, and Sanders went on to rush for 1,470 yards and 14 TDs that season, which culminated in him being named AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.
The Giants didn’t quite bottle Sanders up in this one, but they did keep him out of the end zone. Sanders went for 69 yards rushing on 11 carries and the Giants won the game 20-0.
Sanders played his best game against Big Blue, gaining 146 yards on 26 carries. He didn’t find the end zone, but the Lions won the game, 28-25. It was the first and last time they’d beat the Giants during Sanders’ career.
The Giants got payback for the last meeting between the two teams, blowing the Lions out 35-7 and holding Sanders to 47 yards rushing on 2.9 yards per carry.
This was Sanders at the height of his power, his MVP-winning season where he ran for a career-best 2,053 yards and added 14 total scores. He topped the century-mark that day with 105 yards on 24 carries and one TD but, save for one 37-yard scamper late, the Giants did a reasonable job containing him.
In all, Big Blue was 4-1 against Sanders’ Lions and held him to 424 yards rushing, 169 yards receiving and two TDs. When the Giants and Lions take the field Sunday, the Giants won’t have nearly as much to fear from Detroit’s rushing attack. Their top two-rushers, Theo Riddick and Dwayne Washington have combined for 569 yards through Week 14. In the best three games of his career, Sanders amassed 673 yards rushing.