Saquon Barkley said after a lifetime-high 35 carries Sunday that he’s glad Giants GM Joe Schoen entertained midseason contract talks with him during the bye week, but Barkley agreed it’s best to table that topic until after the season.
“I’m just happy that we were able to at least have a conversation,” Barkley said after the Giants’ 24-16 win over the Texans. “I know how they feel about me. They spoke very highly of me, but we weren’t able to get anything done during the bye week. And I agree with Joe: just lock it up for the rest of the season and make sure no distractions come out of it.”
Barkley said he doesn’t view it as a foregone conclusion that a deal will get done. But he reiterated what he’s said before: “I want my legacy to be in this place, and I want to be Giant for life.”
There was no public knowledge of the Giants’ contract talks with Barkley until ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported early Sunday morning that the sides had spoken but never came close to a deal.
Hours later, Brian Daboll gave Barkley more carries than he’s ever had at any level of football: high school, college or pro. Barkley’s 36 touches, including one catch, were the second most he’s ever had in a game in his life.
He correctly remembered the first: 40 touches for Penn State at Iowa in 2017.
“In college I touched the ball like 40 times against Iowa, I think,” Barkley said, from memory. “I think that’s the most because I think I had 28 carries and 12 catches against Iowa. I was going stupid, by the way.”
Sunday’s 152 rushing yards were the fourth most in Barkley’s NFL career, and he assured his body can take the heavy workload. He said receiving that many touches gets him “more in the game, in a rhythm, [the] flow of the game.”
“I know that’s the conversation of how many carries or how many touches I had,” he said, “but it’s my job to be a pro, go in there, get in the cold tub, get in the hot tub and get ready for next week.”
Barkley still got frustrated with the Giants’ inability to finish on offense. He was animated on the sideline after a 5-yard loss in the fourth quarter and admitted there was “a lot” of talk about how the offense left points on the board.
Still, it was a seventh Giants victory in nine games with Barkley again as a centerpiece. He’s making himself money somewhere, maybe in New York.
GOLLADAY SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS
Daboll benched veteran receiver Kenny Golladay for Sunday’s entire second half after a bad drop with 1:37 remaining in the second quarter that drew loud boos from the crowd.
Golladay didn’t complain afterward. Instead, he admitted “it was a drop,” and he called this the most personally challenging stretch of his NFL career.
“Knowing the type of player I can be, and what I want to put out there on the field, and what’s been going on this year, I think that’s the hard part,” he said.
Golladay had returned after a four-game absence due to a knee injury. But Daniel Jones’ first target to him ticked off his outstretched hands, and he dropped the second throw wide open underneath crossing the field.
“It’s tough. I’m gonna keep pushing through, though,” Golladay said.
Daboll sat Golladay immediately for the final drive of the first half. Then wide receivers coach Mike Groh told Golladay at halftime that the Giants would be using newcomer Isaiah Hodgins at the ‘X’ receiver position from there on out.
Golladay didn’t fire back like he did after playing two snaps in Week 2 against Carolina, though. He declined to respond to the booing and the benching, saying different versions of “I’m gonna keep that to myself.”
Hodgins made two catches for 41 yards, finishing second on the team in receiving behind Darius Slayton’s three grabs for 95 yards and a TD.
NOTES AND NUGGETS
Top corner Adoree Jackson served as the Giants’ punt returner on four of their five returns, fielding three cleanly for two total yards of return and a fair catch. One was downed at the 17. Richie James came in for one punt that he let go, which the Texans downed at the Giants’ 3-yard line. This change was relevant after James’ two lost fumbles in the loss at Seattle prior to the bye. This was Jackson’s first punt return duty for the Giants in three years with the team. “We had to make a decision for this week what we thought was best, and that’s what we went with,” Daboll said … Safety Jason Pinnock, stepping into the third safety role off special teams with Xavier McKinney out, recorded 1.5 sacks off the blitz and four total tackles … Daboll frequently used an offensive formation with eight offensive linemen to pace the run heavy attack, adding Matt Peart, Nick Gates and Jack Anderson as extras. Anderson committed a costly 4th and 1 false start in Texans territory that forced the Giants to punt … QB Daniel Jones took an inadvertent but big, helmet-to-helmet hit from Texans corner Tavierre Thomas on an 11-yard scramble with 7:40 left in the fourth quarter. Jones gained the first down but failed to protect his body adequately. He was knocked out for the season on a similar play last year and had offseason surgery for still-unknown reasons on something in or around his neck. Fortunately, he got up and finished Sunday’s game … Graham Gano impressively hit a 49-yard field goal into the wind in the fourth quarter for important breathing room. The wind was blowing 15 miles per hour at the start of the game. It was blowing so hard that corner Justin Layne had to hold the ball up for Gano’s kickoff with 12:33 left in the third quarter … Quote of the day goes to Slayton, asked if he embraces that the Giants win ugly: “I embrace winning.” … WR David Sills and OT Devery Hamilton joined OLB Quincy Roche, LB Austin Calitro and injured starters OT Evan Neal (knee) and TE Daniel Bellinger (eye) on the inactive list.