Giants’ Saquon Barkley getting first taste of real playoff opportunity

Giants’ Saquon Barkley getting first taste of real playoff opportunity

There has never been a match like this for Saquon Barkley. There’s never been a game like this for most players who face the Giants on Sunday.

If there is one face of the franchise, it is Barkley. In some ways, he’s also the heart and soul of the Giants. He’s never stepped foot on a field wearing a Giants uniform with a chance to lock in a playoff spot. He didn’t sniff out the playoffs. The time he came closest to smelling was last week when the Giants battled to the bitter end with the Vikings before falling to the NFC’s No. 2 seed on a 61-yard field goal when time expired.

That match in Minneapolis gave Barkley a vibe he had never felt before.

“Last week was like a playoff game,” Barkley said. “I’ve never been in one, but I guess.

Saquon Barkley said the Giants’ loss to the Vikings felt like a playoff game, but their opportunity to win against the Colts is an even bigger game. NY Post: Charles Wenzelberg

“Just how it happened. How strong it was. How it came down to a field goal. I just showed it to you, obviously it’s like that every week but especially in a match like that. I guess. I don’t really know, I’ve never been there.

No, Barkley really doesn’t know.

“It was faster,” he said. “Guys were moving. That’s how I felt, I guess you could say.’

Pardon Barkley for not having expressed himself with extreme clarity. It is foreign to him. What comes next should expose Barkley to the most frenetic and possibly celebratory atmosphere of his five-year NFL career. The crowd at MetLife Stadium will be ready to sneak in and party, with the Giants (8-6-1) in a winning, in-in driver’s seat. If they beat the nowhere Colts (4-10-1), the Giants will make the playoffs for the first time in six years and only the second time since 2011.

A look at the image of the NFC joker ahead of the Giants’ win-and-in game against the Colts. New York Post Illustration

“I think it will be a fun atmosphere,” said Daniel Jones. “Our fans have been out all year. We’ve felt a lot of support, a lot of energy from them all year. We’re definitely expecting that on Sunday. We appreciate the support so far and we’re delighted to ‘go. ”

Jones never stepped onto a court knowing that if he could lead the Giants to victory, the playoffs would be guaranteed. The closest to that was Week 17 in 2020 – Joe Judge’s first season as head coach – when the Giants had a chance to keep themselves alive for the playoffs if they beat the Cowboys. at MetLife Stadium. Barkley was on injured reserve. Jones was terrific, throwing two touchdown passes in a 23-19 win. But the Giants, at 6-10, were knocked out of the playoffs later that night when Doug Pederson’s Eagles didn’t exactly put the pedal to the metal in a loss to Washington.

The last time the Giants gave their fans a win-win celebration was over a decade ago in the 2011 regular season finale. A week earlier, Victor Cruz had rushed for 99 yards for beat the Jets, creating a wild Meadowlands scene on New Years Day. The Giants beat the Cowboys, 31-14, to win the NFC East at 9-7. They kept playing and winning until winning the Super Bowl for the second time in four years.

No one equates these Giants with these Giants. This team has already destroyed the meager expectations placed on them even after General Manager Joe Schoen and Head Coach Brian Daboll were brought in to change the course of the franchise. The anticipation was to lay the groundwork for victory without expecting too much of an actual victory. A place in the playoffs? Not realistic.

But here they are. The Giants will enter the NFC Tournament if they win one of their last two games. If upset by the Colts, the Giants will have another shot at making the playoffs in Week 18 in Philadelphia. The Giants don’t want to be part of that scenario.

“It’s meaningful, it’s big and we have to take the opportunity before us,” said outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari. “Why not seize this opportunity and take advantage of it? »

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