Giants’ Saquon Barkley shows why he’s ‘unique’ after injury scare

Just as Giants fans finally could exhale seeing that their best player wasn’t injured again, Saquon Barkley took their breath away.

Barkley missed 14 offensive snaps spanning the late third and early fourth quarters Sunday when he was checked for a shoulder injury, but he emphatically announced his return with less than 10 minutes left by taking a short crossing pass and weaving his way to a 41-yard gain. Four plays later, Barkley took a direct snap, bounced to the outside and scored the decisive touchdown in a stunning 27-22 win against the Packers in London.

“There’s no doubt what he brings to our offense any time he is on the field is special and unique,” quarterback Daniel Jones said. “To have him back at that point in the game was a little bit of a lift for us. That was big time.”

After missing 18 games over the last two seasons with knee and ankle injuries, Barkley led the NFL in rushing yards and yards from scrimmage after four weeks. Considering the depleted state of the Giants’ receivers, he is almost the entirety of the offensive playmaking, so there was plenty of reason for concern when he reached for his right shoulder after he rolled under linebacker De’Vondre Campbell on a tackle.

Saquon Barkley celebrates after a run in the fourth quarter against the Packers.

“I wasn’t woozy at all. I wasn’t stumbling,” Barkley said. “If anything, I was pacing back and forth because I wanted to get back in the game. I put my trust in [the training staff and doctors]. I spent a little more time with them the last couple years rehabbing than I would like, but I know they have my best interest at heart. They did everything they could to help me get back in the game and help the team win.”

Barkley went into the medical tent on the sideline, had his helmet taken away and then went back to the locker room for more testing. He was listed as questionable to return.

“I kept asking him on the sideline, ‘Are you good to go?’ He was good to go,” head coach Brian Daboll said. “He’s a competitor.”

Barkley finished with 13 carries for 70 yards and three catches for 36 yards. Two of his biggest plays — a 40-yard run on the Giants’ first touchdown drive and his 2-yard touchdown run to snap a 20-20 tie with 6:08 remaining in the game — came as a Wildcat quarterback. He also took the first pitch and tossed the second on the reverse touchdown run by tight end Daniel Bellinger.

The most surprising part of the win was that the Giants did almost all of the damage on a tying 15-play, 91-yard touchdown drive while their workhorse was being evaluated. Gary Brightwell finished the drive with his first career touchdown and a keepsake to bring home.

Saquon Barkley leaps in the air after scoring a touchdown versus the Packers.

“I didn’t get to see Gary’s touchdown, which I’m upset about because that’s like my little brother,” Barkley said. “I love the way he runs and carries himself. What a way to get your first down in a big game overseas. I made sure like, ‘You’ve got the ball?’ ”

Almost as important as the win is that the Giants can keep giving the ball to a healthy Barkley.

“If I go back to when I was an 8-year-old kid and I started playing football,” Barkley said as he took in the scenes from London, “I’d be really happy with where I’m at.”

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