Saquon Barkley explodes for 194 yards in stunning 21-20 Giants upset of Titans – The Denver Post



NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Saquon Barkley’s blistering 194 yards from scrimmage on Sunday paved the way for a stunning 21-20 Giants upset of the Tennessee Titans.

And only after a gusty Brian Daboll two-point conversion shovel pass to Barkley gave them a late lead, and Titans kicker Randy Bullock pulled a 47-yard field goal wide left as time expired.

“It’s a new era,” Barkley said with a twinkle in his eye.

Jones threw a one-yard TD pass to tight end Chris Myarick with 1:06 to play in the fourth quarter, bringing the Giants within 20-19. Then Daboll went for two and the lead in his NFL head coaching debut, rather than calling for an extra point to tie the game.

Barkley took a shovel pass from Jones and bounced and barreled through traffic into the end zone for the lead, with rookie left guard Josh Ezeudu paving the way.

Along with a 68-yard third quarter run that turned the game’s energy, and a 5-yard TD rush that ignited the Giants’ second-half comeback, Barkley’s emphatic performance was nothing short of a statement.

“That man’s been working his ass off,” receiver Sterling Shepard said. “I’ve been seeing that every single day. He’s got it in his eyes. You see that man’s eyes. Locked in, focused. Man’s a dog, bro. People better stop playing with that man. For real. Wake up the monster. 194? Stop playing with him.”

When Barkley’s two-point conversion gave the Giants a 21-20 lead, Titans QB Ryan Tannehill still promptly drove the Tennessee offense into field goal range, helped by three Giants penalties.

But Bullock, the Titans’ kicker, pulled his 47-yard field goal wide left, and Daboll’s Giants spilled onto the field in celebration. This was the Giants’ first Week 1 win since 2016, the last time they made the playoffs. They beat last year’s AFC No. 1 seed to get it.

“Luckily when you have Saquon Barkley, it works out,” Jones said.

The game felt like it had been lost earlier, when Jones coughed up an unthinkable end zone interception to Titans safety Amani Hooker with 8:50 remaining in the fourth quarter—on a third-down pass intended for a covered Barkley.

“Just a poor decision,” Jones said. “It was a play to take advantage of [Barkley] and try to get him the ball, but I gotta make a better decision there and make sure we keep points.”

A muffed punt by Titans rookie Kyle Philips, recovered by Giants safety Jason Pinnock, had gifted the underdog visitors a chance to tie with 10:28 left in the fourth quarter while trailing, 20-13.

Don Martindale’s determined defense had kept Daboll’s team in the game despite a 13-0 deficit at halftime. They held Derrick Henry to 82 yards on 21 carries led by edge Jihad Ward (six tackles).

A 13-point third quarter flurry by Jones, Barkley and Sterling Shepard had tied the game. But they were still within reach after Titans running back Dontrell Hilliard’s second touchdown reception of the game with 2:54 left in the third quarter, and after Jones’ pick—his second turnover of the day.

And Daboll’s gutsy decision, with Mike Kafka sending in the play call, made the difference. The Giants (1-0) will host the Carolina Panthers (0-1) in their home opener next Sunday.

The energy of Sunday’s game changed drastically early in the third quarter, though when the Giants scored 13 points in a span of two minutes and 28 seconds to tie it up. They trailed, 13-0, with the ball on their own 10-yard line.

Then Barkley burst up the left sideline for a 68-yard run, and capped the drive off with a 5-yard TD run off the left side. Left tackle Andrew Thomas and Ezeudu plowed open a hole on the TD for a 13-6 deficit with 11:16 remaining in the third.

“I kinda just started to get in the zone, start locking in,” Barkley said of that big run. “I kinda love being in that place. Gotta try to find a way to get in that place a little quicker.”

A bad snap robbed the Giants of an extra point. But they tied the game on their very next drive.

Jones hit Shepard for a 65-yard bomb TD pass up the left sideline over the head of young Titans corner Kristian Fulton. Shepard broke a tackle after making the catch to burst into the end zone. A Graham Gano extra point tied the game at 13 apiece with 8:48 left in the third quarter.

Tannehill responded to drive the Titans 75 yards in nine plays and hit Hilliard sprinting past inside linebacker Tae Crowder for a 23-yard TD. That was carry over from the first half.

Tennessee had led 13-0 at halftime behind a 7-yard TD pass from Tannehill to Hilliard and two Bullock field goals. The Giants offense didn’t snap the ball on Tennessee’s side of the field all half. And Tannehill had exploited the Giants’ inside linebackers, a position group weakened by the recent release of Blake Martinez.

Austin Calitro was beaten on Hilliard’s touchdown on the Titans’ first drive with favorable field position due to a 46-yard Philips punt return. And Crowder was burnt on Hilliard’s 31-yard gain to set up a Bullock field goal in the early second quarter.

The Giants’ Jones also was sacked five times in the game, four times in the first four drives. Titans terror Jeffrey Simmons got him for a strip sack in the second quarter recovered by Bud Dupree.

But Jones still finished 17-of-21 for 188 yards, two TDs and two turnovers. And of course, he had Barkley. The Titans did not.

“Crazy,” Golladay said of Barkley’s afternoon. “You can never see a game like this coming. The stats were crazy. But am I surprised that it happened? Hell no.”

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