Barkley, defense give fans Giant reason to be optimistic


Keith Allison

Keith Allison | Wikimedia Commons

Fahim Khan

Stress, disappointment, frustration and anger are all words that can describe the emotions felt by New York Giants fans over the past decade.

The Giants have been a complete disaster, having missed the playoffs every year since 2016 while having ongoing concerns surrounding whether Daniel Jones is “the guy,” Saquon Barkley’s health or the offensive line’s ability to protect the quarterback.

But the 2022 season opener against the Tennessee Titans sparked hope for a successful season for Giants, due to an elite outing from Barkley and a gritty performance by the defense, as well as a gutsy but effective call from new head coach Brian Daboll.

The game started with the Titans exerting their dominance over the Giants. Ryan Tannehill easily picked apart the Giants secondary, throwing a touchdown to Dontrell Hilliard on the team’s first drive. With several flags, a fumble and continual errors from the offensive line, the Giants had trouble scoring in the first half. The Titans ended the half with a 13-0 lead, making it clear who the superior team was.

The Titans got to the red zone several times after their first touchdown, but the Giants defense prevented them from scoring a touchdown each time. Particularly impressive was the defense’s ability to slow down the Titans’ star running back, Derrick Henry, who ended the game with 82 yards and none of his signature explosive plays.

The defense, led by standout performances from players like Tae Crowder, Adoree Jackson, Xavier McKinney and Leonard Williams, prevented the game from getting out of hand while the offense was helpless.

The second half was a completely different story for the Giants offense, as the team came out with more passion and energy. With a 68-yard run from Barkley and a 65-yard catch by Sterling Shepard, the Giants scored 13 unanswered points to tie up the game.

The Titans would go on to take the lead again with another Hilliard touchdown, making the score 20-13. Like the first half, the start of the fourth quarter looked like a disaster for the Giants offense.

To combat this disappointing start, Jones and company would finally mount a successful drive downfield and score a touchdown to bring the score closer at 20-19.

Most coaches normally go for the tie via the point-after kick when there is little time left on the clock, but Daboll, with the gutsiest call of the game, sent his offense out for a two-point conversion.

If the play failed, Daboll would have felt the wrath of Giants nation and the unforgiving New York sports media for weeks to come. But a shovel pass from Jones to Barkley would give the Giants the two points needed to take the lead, 21-20.

Following the successful conversion, the Titans went downfield to set up a Randy Bullock field goal. But to the relief and delight of Giants fans, he missed. The Giants won the game, 21-20.

This was a very ugly win for the Giants, but one filled with bravery and perseverance. Coach Daboll got one step closer to proving he is the right man for the job.

This game also showed that when healthy, Barkley can be the star whom the Giants expected when they drafted him back in 2018.

This win does not guarantee a successful season for the Giants, but the positive takeaways from the game will give fans several reasons to be hopeful.