Saquon Barkley is one of the most electrifying running backs in the National Football League, and he’s already set multiple NFL records in his first two seasons in the league.
He made even more history Monday night in the New York Giants‘ season opener, but it wasn’t the way he would’ve liked. Barkley carried the ball 15 times and totaled just six yards on the ground in one of the worst statistical games of his career. In fact, it might’ve been the worst running back performance in the NFL over the last 20 years.
Saquon Barkley had a rough season debut Monday night
After two incredible seasons to start his young NFL career, Barkley was expected to take an even bigger step toward greatness in 2020. Well, that plan didn’t get off to a great start in week one.
Barkley was stymied by the Steelers for a measly six rushing yards on 15 carries on Monday Night Football. That was good for 0.4 yards per rush. Barkley did have 60 receiving yards on six catches, but his rushing numbers were the story of the night.
Barkley is supposed to be the spark plug for the underwhelming Giants offense. He’s the only weapon who can routinely make game-changing plays for New York, but he was completely shut down in the season opener.
The Giants offense only mustered 16 points against the Steelers in what finished as a 10-point loss.
Barkley made NFL history with his embarrassing rushing performance
Barkley is already used to breaking records and making NFL history in his young career, but what he did Monday night got him into the NFL record books in an embarrassing way.
With just six yards on the ground, Barkley passed LaDainian Tomlinson and Rudi Johnson for the lowest amount of rushing yards on at least 15 attempts in the NFL this century. Only five running backs since 1970 have rushed for less than 10 yards on at least 15 carries.
“Not really too concerned about the stats,” Barkley said after the game. “Got to give credit where it’s due: They have a great defensive front. I have to be better for the team.”
Barkley isn’t the only one to blame
On the surface, Barkley’s stat line suggests he had the worst game of his football career. But that’s not the full story.
No, obviously Barkley wasn’t at his best Monday night, but his offensive line didn’t do him any favors. Barkley was hit at or behind the line of scrimmage 11 times in his 15 rush attempts. Eight of his 15 carries went for negative yards.
Once Barkley breaks the line of scrimmage, he’s as dangerous as any player in the NFL. But he can only get there if his offensive line opens up sizeable holes. That didn’t happen one time against the vaunted Steelers defense.
Barkley may have had one of the worst statistical games in the last 20 years on Monday night, but don’t expect that to become the norm going forward.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference