Giants RB Saquon Barkley on return to form in 194-yard day: 'Just enjoy the process'

The New York Giants' Saquon Barkley who won the 2018 Associated Press Rookie of the Year looks to have returned in full force to begin the 2022 season against the Tennessee Titans.

After a ho-hum first half by the entire Giants offense that saw quarterback Daniel Jones under a constant barrage of pressure and a zero on the scoreboard, Barkley emerged in the second half as a gamebreaker once again, flashing burst rarely seen in his last three injury-plagued seasons. It may be one week, but Barkley put up play after play that made it difficult to deny he is back to peak form.

By the end of the Giants' 21-20 win over the Tennessee Titans, Barkley amassed 164 rushing yards (9.1 yards per carry) and a touchdown on 18 carries and added 30 more yards while pacing the Giants with six receptions. It was Barkley's highest total rushing yards since Week 16 of 2019 (189 yards).

"It's just one game, to be honest. That's how I look at it," he told reporters. "Obviously, at the end of the day, I'm excited to get the win. But personally, I just gotta keep coming. Something that keeps sticking with me that coach (Brian Daboll) says, just enjoy the process. That's something that I've been battling the last two years with rehabbing and injuries, and that's been my mindset. So, no matter what. Win, loss, tie, I was going to come in here with the same mindset and just keep enjoying the process."

Barkley's performance was positive throughout, but the essence of his return can be boiled down to a few game-defining plays. On Big Blue's first play of the third quarter, he bounced a run outside and streaked 68 yards down the sideline to kickstart New York's first scoring drive. He also had another impact play -- a 33-yard run where he sneaked through two converging defenders and regained his footing -- at the beginning of the Giants' game-winning possession.

Both his 4-yard touchdown run and his two-point conversion on a shovel pass, which put the Giants up for good, displayed an ability to dance around would-be tacklers that has been missing from Barkley's game since an ACL tear and various ankle injuries had seemingly stripped the back of his shiftiness.

That was the story of the night for Barkley. Rather than the plodding, unsure runner who amassed only 593 rushing yards in 13 games last year, Barkley created space with ease and welcomed explosive contact at the line to scratch out extra yards when nothing else was available.

His teammates were understandably more demonstrative in their praise than he was in speaking about himself.

"He's got it in his eyes," wide receiver Sterling Shepard said, per Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. "You see that man's eyes. Locked in, focused. Man's a dog, bro. People better stop playing with that man."

That something Shepard saw in Barkley's eyes translated to the field. He looked to be the Barkley of old at every opportunity, and if he's able to add more performances like that in the coming weeks, the offense Daboll is bringing from Buffalo has more than enough room to grow.

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