Barkley 46 yards shy of rushing for 1,000 yards as rookie

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) stiff arms Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (23) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)


AP Sports Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — There seems to be no limit to Saquon Barkley’s upside.

Just when it seems the New York Giants’ rookie running back has shown just about everything he can do on the football field, the second pick overall in the NFL draft finds another way to impress people.

Take a look at Sunday’s’ 30-27 overtime win over the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears.

While Barkley failed to score for only the fourth time 12 games, he rushed for 125 yards on 24 carries and helped set up 13 points.

His 22-yard run on a third-and-23 draw play set up a team-record 57-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas on the final play of the half. The play that had everyone talking was his 17-yard catch and run that ended with his hurdle over former Penn State teammate Adrian Amos. It led to a 1-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Odell Beckham Jr .

Finally, there was his 29-yard run on the first play from scrimmage in the overtime. Rosas capped the drive with a 44-yard field goal that provided the winning margin when the Giants’ defense stopped Chicago on the final series.

“I said it early and I really believe it, he’s got a generational spirit in terms of how he competes, and I have not been — WE have not been — disappointed in (any) way,” coach Pat Shurmur said of Barkley on Monday. “He’s extremely talented running the ball, catching the ball, he blocks well, we’re doing what we can to give him the football so he has an impact on the game, and I think he has.”

Barkley’s statistics are impressive.

His 954 yards rushing are third in the NFL behind Todd Gurley (1,175) of the Rams and Ezekiel Elliott (1,150) of the Cowboys. He has exceeded 100 yards from scrimmage in 11 of 12 games and his 100-yard game rushing Sunday was his third in a row and fifth of the season.

Catching three passes for 21 yards also gave Barkley 74 catches, tying tight end Jeremy Shockey (2002) for the second-highest total by a Giants rookie. Beckham holds the franchise rookie record with 91 in 2014.

Barkley has downplayed his statistics all season, but he knows the significance of running for 1,000 yards. He would need 46 yards Sunday against Washington to hit the mark.

“It would be special because obviously one, it’s the NFL, and two, when you get 1,000 yards, it’s not just yourself getting 1,000 yards, it’s your team getting 1,000 yards. It’s the offense and especially the offensive line,” Barkley said.

The biggest adjustment Barkley has had to make this season is dealing with losing. New York was 1-7. It has now won three of four since its bye week, including Sunday’s game in which it blew a 10-point lead in the final 1:13 of the fourth quarter.

However, the Giants found a way to win in overtime.

“It just put everything in perspective from all the hard work that we’ve been putting in all season to go out there and beat a really good team and who was playing lights out up to that game or even in that game, they played really well, too,” Barkley said. “Definitely gives you confidence, and even though the season hasn’t been going how we want it to go.

Barkley now has 1,556 yards from scrimmage, so he needs 444 yards to become the third rookie in league history to reach 2,000 yards from scrimmage. Eric Dickerson set the record of 2,212 in 1983, while Edgerrin James had 2,139 in 1981.

Barkley said it’s hard to describe some of the things he does on the field. The jump over Amos was on instinct.

“Some things you can’t explain and I give a lot of credit to God in a situation like that, my genetics, my mom and dad,” the 21-year-old Barkley said. “But a lot of that is also hard work, training my body to when you’re put in those positions to be able to make those cuts and make those moves.”

NOTES: Giants starting LB Tae Davis had a walking boot on his left foot (ankle). … WR Sterling Shepard (ribs) said an MRI showed tissue damage. He expects to play Sunday. … Shurmur had his doubts either TE Evan Engram (hamstring) or LB Lorenzo Carter (hip) would return this week. … Rookie Kyle Lauletta was the backup Sunday and veteran Alex Tanney was inactive. Shurmur said that probably will be the same order this week. … Lauletta had been inactive for the first 11 games. Shurmur reiterated Manning is his starter.


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