Saquon Barkley gets hands on historic feat with 89th catch of year

ByJordan Raanan ESPN logo
Monday, December 31, 2018

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Giants top pick Saquon Barkley set a rookie running back record when he caught his 89th reception of the season in the second quarter of Sunday's 36-35 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He also continued rewriting the franchise's record book with a poster-worthy, fully extended leaping touchdown in the second half.

Barkley passed the previous rookie running back receptions mark set by Reggie Bush (88) in 2006 with the New Orleans Saints. He did it by grabbing a dump-down pass from quarterback Eli Manning over the middle of the field in the final two minutes of the first half.

Barkley finished with four catches in the contest and 91 this season. That tied the Giants' rookie record for receptions set by Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014.

For the day, Barkley finished with 109 rushing yards and a touchdown, as well as four catches for 33 yards.

This just added to Barkley's already impressive rookie season. He had other records and marks within his reach entering Sunday's season finale, among them tallying 2,000 total yards, which he reached in the second half.

"It doesn't mean so much to me," Barkley said. "Obviously I'm not going to lie to you, it's an amazing feeling, it's awesome to accomplish those things. That's stuff that you dream about as a little kid, but you can't do that by yourself. It's a team thing. When you get a record of anything, it's a team thing, so you definitely have to give credit to my offensive linemen, first and foremost, but also the quarterbacks, wide receivers and the coaching staff ... and the tight ends."

Barkley came into the contest 114 yards shy of 2,000 total yards this season. He finished with 142 on Sunday and 2,028 this season. Barkley joined Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James as the only players to reach 2,000 yards in their rookie seasons when he broke a 68-yard run in the third quarter.

"We were talking about it before the game of how much he had to get," tight end Evan Engram said. "I was proud of him when he did, and happy for him. He was a big difference-maker for us this year. A special talent, a special leader, special kid.

"He's going to be great, probably one of the greatest ever."

Barkley reached the 2,000-yard plateau Sunday on what was his sixth rush this season of at least 50 yards. Those six rushes are twice as many as any other player, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Isaiah Crowell of the New York Jets is second with three.

Barkley's six 50-plus-yard runs were the most by a Giants player in a season since the merger in 1970, according to Elias.

"It's an amazing feeling," Barkley said. "Like I said, 2,000 yards to be mentioned in the same name as Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James, but you don't do that by yourself."

The No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft also topped 1,200 yards rushing on his first carry Sunday. He became the first first-year player since Billy Sims in 1980 to reach 1,200 yards rushing and at least 600 yards receiving, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Sims was named Rookie of the Year that season.

With a leaping touchdown in the fourth quarter, Barkley passed Bill Paschal for the most rushing touchdowns by a rookie running back in franchise history. Paschal rushed for 10 touchdowns in 1943. Barkley compiled 11 rushing touchdowns and four receiving TDs this season.

"You saw the impact he's had on games running the ball and throwing the ball," coach Pat Shurmur said. "He's going to be fun to watch around here for a very long time.

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