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Saquon Barkley returns to form in New York Giants’ stunning Week 1 win

Jason Leach

The Brian Daboll era is off to a fantastic start following the New York Giants’ 21-20 upset win over the Tennessee Titans. It also seems as if running back Saquon Barkley is back at 100% and ready to dominate.

When Randy Bullock’s 47-yard game-winning field goal attempt sailed wide left for Tennessee, you could hear the relief and jubilation amongst Giants fans across the country.

With the victory, New York has a winning record for the first time since the 2016 season. This was the kind of win that showed what type of character a team has as they battled back from a 13-point halftime deficit.

Based on what we saw in the first few minutes of the game, it seemed as if Daboll and his team were not ready for the moment.

The offense began the game going three and out, and then the punt team gave up a 46-yard punt return by Kyle Philips that gave the Titans the ball in Giants territory. Five plays later and Tennessee would score the first touchdown of the game on a Ryan Tannehill seven-yard score to Dontrell Hilliard to go up 7-0.

New York’s offense was unable to respond as it was out of sync the entire first half. After punting on their second possession, Daniel Jones suffered his first turnover of the season as he was strip-sacked by Jeffery Simmons and the ball was recovered by Bud Dupree.

Bullock would convert on two field goals of 46 and 23 yards, respectively, in the second quarter to give Tennessee what felt like a comfortable halftime lead. But things would change quickly in the second half.

Related: Daniel Jones respnds to criticism from New York Giants head coach by leading comeback win

Saquon Barkley takes over the second half

new york giants running back saquon barkley
George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

With the offense in desperate need of a spark, Barkley ripped off a 68-yard run down the left sideline, which gave New York the ball at the Titans’ 22-yard line. Three plays later, and Barkley would score the first touchdown of the season on a four-yard run. However, due to a bad snap, New York was unable to kick an extra point and the game remained 13-6.

Big Blue would tie the game on their next possession of the game on a Jones 65- yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard. Shepard showed that he’s fully recovered from torn Achilles as he broke a tackle on his way to the end zone.

New York’s joy would be short-lived as the Titans went back in front on their next possession on another Tannehill to Hillard connection, this time from 23 yards out to go back in front 20-13.

With Kadarius Toney barely seeing play time due to an undisclosed reason, Barkley continued to spearhead the Giants’ offense both as a runner and pass catcher.

Due to Barkley’s superlatives, New York was once again in position to time the game with 8:55 remaining in the fourth quarter. That’s when disaster struck as a Jones pass intended for Barkley was intercepted in the end zone by Amani Hooker.

Following the interception, Daboll was visibly upset and laid into his quarterback.

This would have signaled the end for Giants teams in recent years. But this team showed their resolve and battled back.  The defense would force a punt on Tennessee’s next possession, giving Jones and the offense another chance to put the ball in the end zone.

Saquon Barkley would once again come to the rescue as he broke free for a 33-yard run and might have scored if Kristian Fulton didn’t punch the ball from behind out of Barkley’s grasp and went out of bounds at the 11-yard line.

Eight plays later, Jones would throw his first touchdown of the season on a one-yard pass to Chris Myarick to make the score 20-19 with 1:06 remaining in the game.

Almost everyone expected the Giants to kick the extra point to tie the game. But Daboll had other thoughts. Instead, he went for the win as the Giants were able to successfully convert a two-point conversion on a shuffle pass from Jones to Barkley to give the Giants the lead 21-20.

Winning games in the NFL is never easy and New York had to hold off the Titans frantic attempt to win the game in the final moments. They would drive the ball all the way down to New York’s 29-yard line thanks to two holding penalties, and a 27-yard completion to Kyle Philips. Before Bullock would miss the game winning field goal attempt.

Starting the season off with a win was sorely needed for the organization that has gone 22-59 over the past five seasons. There was an air of optimism heading into the season thanks to Daboll and the new pieces that general manager Joe Schoen added. Now Daboll showed a glimpse of what type of coach he will be as it’s rare that you’ll see a rookie head coach go for two with the game on the line.

You never want to overreact to what occurs in Week 1. But down the road, we may look back at what happened in the first game of the 2022 season, as the first step toward New York becoming an relevent franchise.

This game was also vindication for Barkley as he silenced his critics with one of the best games of his career. He was as fast and explosive as he was in 2018 when he was named Offensive Rookie of the Year.

If Saquon Barkley can continue to perform like this, expect for Big Blue to pull off more upsets this season.