The statistics suggested that Sunday was going to be a fun day for Saquon Barkley and the Giants’ rushing attack.
The Lions’ defense entered the game ranked 31st in the NFL in run defense and the Giants, thanks to Barkley’s 931 yards through the first nine games, were ranked No. 3 in rushing offense.
So, of course the Lions’ defense suffocated Barkley, holding him to 22 yards on 15 carries for a 1.5-yard per rush average. That was as big a reason for the Giants’ 31-18 loss to the Lions at MetLife Stadium as anything — including the Giants’ three turnovers.
“They did a good job up front; they won up front,” Giants head coach Brian Daboll said of the Lions. “[They] made tackles in space, bottled up the run game pretty good. That’s obviously a big part of what we do.”
Barkley looked like he had nowhere to run all day and as the frustration wore on, he looked more and more hesitant. A tone was set on the Giants’ first offensive play from scrimmage when Detroit defensive lineman John Cominsky stuffed Barkley for a 3-yard loss.
“If the run game is not going, you’re kind of tied with one hand behind your back,” Barkley said. “You’ve [then] got to pass the ball, so that’s why it’s important for myself to get this run game back on track and the best way to do that is moving on and getting ready for Thursday [at Dallas].”
Barkley said he was “trying to take what they give me,” adding, “I was trying to focus on taking little runs, taking little runs, and when the opportunity comes, make them pay, and I didn’t make them pay at all today.
“I’ve got to give credit to all those boys over there and the [Lions] D-coordinator. They did a really good job today.”
Giants center Jon Feliciano credited the Detroit defense.
“They’re a good D-line,” said Feliciano, who suffered what was believed to be a stinger in his neck and was knocked out of the game in the third quarter. “We’ve just got to execute better, get everyone on the same page. They came out ready and all hats off to them. We can’t turn the ball over. We haven’t been doing that. It’s tough on our defense when we do.”
The poor rushing effort also put strain on Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, who pressed and threw two interceptions.
“Credit to Detroit — they had a good plan and stopped us in some areas that we’ve had success,” Jones said. “We’ve got to look at ourselves and see where we can execute better.”