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Inside the Numbers: The success of the run game


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – When Saquon Barkley was lost for the season in Week 2 with a torn knee ligament, the subsequent questions centered primarily on the health of both the Giants' celebrated running back and the team's rushing attack.

Barkley essentially was the Giants' ground game in 2018-19, accounting for 92.4% and 78.9% of the yards generated by the team's running backs (despite missing three games with ankle injury last year). The 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year rushed for 1,307 and 1,003 yards to become the first player in Giants history to rush for 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons.

With Barkley accounting for only 19 carries, the Giants averaged 79 yards and exceeded 89 yards just once in their first five games this season. Their per-carry average was 3.8 yards.

But their rushing attack has since found its footing.

Since the start of Week 6, the Giants have rushed for 1,042 yards and averaged 148.8 yards a game and 4.8 yards an attempt. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, during that span, they have the NFL's sixth-highest rushing total, fifth-highest per-game average and fourth-highest average per carry, behind Philadelphia (5.5), Tennessee (5.3) and Arizona (5.2). The Giants host the Cardinals Sunday in MetLife Stadium.

The 5-7 first-place Giants are now averaging 119.8 yards a game and 4.5 yards-per-carry for the season. That places them 11th and 12th, respectively, in the league. The Giants' last notable rushing season was 2010, when they finished sixth in the NFL with an average of 137.5 yards. Since then, their highest season-ending ranking and average was in 2012, when they were 14th in the league at 116.4.

The Giants have rushed for more than 100 yards in seven consecutive games, their longest streak since doing it nine games in a row in 2010. They are 5-3 when they rush for more than 100 yards and 0-4 when they don't.

After the Giants' 17-12 defeat of the Seahawks Sunday in Seattle, coach Joe Judge said, "Part of our game plan obviously was to run the ball." That has been the norm. The Giants had 31 rushing attempts, their lowest total in the last four games. It is their longest streak with 30+ carries since they had five in a row from Oct. 19-Nov. 16, 2008.

The Giants are averaging 26.8 rushing attempts per game, their highest total since they averaged 28.1 carries in 2014. The 26.8 attempts places them 15th in the NFL this season.

*Wayne Gallman didn't have a carry in Week 6, when the Giants defeated Washington for their first victory of the season. Daniel Jones and Devonta Freeman led the Giants with 74 and 61 rushing yards, respectively. But since the Week 7 Thursday night loss in Philadelphia, Gallman has been, as Barkley calls him, "Wayne Train," rushing for 428 yards (the league's sixth-highest total in that span) and six touchdowns (tying him for second with Cam Newton, Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook, who trail Washington's Antonio Gibson's 8).

In Sunday's 17-12 victory, Gallman's career-long 60-yard run fueled his career-high 135-yard outing, on 16 carries.

*Four different running backs have rushed for a touchdown for the Giants this season (plus Jones and tight end Evan Engram). Gallman leads the way with six, followed by Freeman, Dion Lewis and Alfred Morris with one apiece. That is the most Giants backs with a touchdown since 2013, when they also four – Brandon Jacobs, Andre Brown, Peyton Hillis and David Wilson.

*With his four-yard rushing score in Seattle, Morris became the first player in history to score a touchdown for NFC East rivals Washington, Dallas, and the Giants.

*The Giants are the first team to win four consecutive games after a 1-7 (or 0-8) start since the 2004 Carolina Panthers, who won five games in a row after losing seven of their first eight games.

*The Giants have won three consecutive road games for the first time since they defeated Dallas, the Jets and Carolina spanning the 2011-12 seasons. They last won three straight road games in a single season from Sept. 25-Nov. 6, 2011, when they beat Philadelphia, Arizona and New England.

*In their last two games, the Giants defeated Cincinnati, 19-17, and Seattle, 17-12. They last won consecutive games while scoring less than 20 points in each on Dec. 11 and 18, 2016, when they beat Dallas, 10-7, and Detroit, 17-6.

*The Giants won Sunday despite trailing at halftime, 5-0. They had lost their previous seven games when they were behind after two quarters. It was their first victory in a game in which they trailed entering the third quarter since Dec. 15, 2019, when a 10-7 deficit became a 36-20 victory over Miami in Manning's last career game.

*Through Week 8 – when the Giants lost to Tampa Bay to fall to 1-7 - the Giants' turnover differential was minus-5. They are now at plus-3, which ties them with Baltimore for 12th in the NFL. Since Week 9, the Giants are 4-0 and their plus-8 turnover ratio is the league's best.

*The Giants had a season-high five sacks on Sunday, their highest total since they had five in a victory at Washington on Dec. 9, 2018. Their previous high this season was four at Chicago on Sept. 20. In every other game this season, the Giants recorded either two or three sacks. The Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers are the only teams with at least two sacks in every game this season.

*Dating back to last season, the Giants have at least one sack in 16 consecutive games. That is the NFL's fourth-longest active streak, behind Pittsburgh (69), Philadelphia (25) and New Orleans (25).

*The Giants are 4-1 when they score first, 1-6 when their opponents do.

*Colt McCoy's 105 passing yards in Seattle were the fewest by a Giants starting quarterback in a victory since Oct. 28. 2007, when Eli Manning threw for 59 yards in a 13-10 win against the Miami Dolphins in London.

*Engram led the Giants with 32 receiving yards in Seattle. That was the lowest total by a Giants yardage leader since another tight end, Jeremy Shockey, had a team-high 26 yards - in the victory vs. the Dolphins in London.

*Engram's four receptions in Seattle increased his career total to 201, tying him with Howard Cross for fifth among Giants tight ends and 24th on the franchise's career list. The other tight ends on the list are Shockey (371), Bob Tucker (327), Mark Bavaro (266) and Aaron Thomas (247).

*Sterling Shepard caught just one pass for 22 yards vs. the Seahawks but increased his career yardage total to 3,243. That moved him past Bob Schnelker (3,232) and into 20th place on the Giants' career list. Plaxico Burress is 19th with 3,681.

*Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson started his 60th consecutive game on Sunday, the Giants' longest active streak. Guard Kevin Zeitler is second – at 14 straight starts.

*The Giants, Jets and Baltimore Ravens are the only teams without an individual 300-yard passing game this season.

*Graham Gano made his only field goal attempt on Sunday and still has the NFL's second-longest active streak of consecutive successes:

Player                         Team            Consecutive FGs

Jason Myers               Seattle                   27

Graham Gano            Giants                    25

Younghoe Koo          Atlanta                   24

Nick Folk                  New England          20

Ryan Succop           Tampa Bay             18

*Gano has made 26 of 27 field goal attempts this season, a .963 percentage that is the third-highest among kickers with more than 16 tries. He trails Koo (.970, 32 of 33) and Miami's Jason Sanders (.966, 28 of 29).

*Gano is 10th in the NFL with 95 points.

*The Giants today added an intriguing player when they signed versatile Joe Webb. He is listed as a quarterback, but has also caught passes, run the ball and returned kickoffs.

In addition, the Giants signed defensive end Niko Lalos to the active roster from their practice squad, waived linebacker Trent Harris and terminated the practice squad contract of tight end Nakia Griffin-Stewart.

Webb, 34, has played in 102 regular-season games with four starts and in eight postseason games with one start for Minnesota, Carolina, Buffalo and Houston. His most recent regular-season game was Dec. 30, 2018, when he played 22 special teams snaps for the Texans vs. Jacksonville. A week later, he participated in 15 special teams plays in Houston's AFC Wild Card loss to Indianapolis.

Webb was a 2010 sixth-round draft choice by the Vikings, from Alabama-Birmingham. In the regular season, he has completed 90 of 159 passes (56.6%) for 888 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions; rushed for 326 yards and four touchdowns on 50 carries, the longest a 65-yarder; caught 10 passes for 74 yards; and averaged 22.3 yards on 18 kickoff returns, the longest a 37-yarder.

His most recent regular-season start was at wide receiver for Minnesota vs. Detroit on Dec. 29, 2013. Webb also started as a wideout vs. Denver on Dec. 4, 2011, and at quarterback on Dec. 28, 2010 and Jan. 2, 2011 at Philadelphia and Detroit, respectively.

Webb's playoff numbers include 11 completions in 30 attempts -- all for the Vikings when he started a 2012 NFC Wild Card game in Green Bay -- for 180 yards, one touchdown and one interception, seven rushing attempts for 68 yards and an 18.5-yard average on five kickoff returns.

*Harris joined the Giants' practice squad on Oct. 14 and was first signed to the active roster three days later. He played in four games with two starts and had five tackles (four solo) and a half-sack. Harris was inactive for the Giants' victories the last two weeks in Cincinnati and Seattle.

*Lalos, a rookie free agent from Dartmouth, played in the last two games as a standard elevation from the practice squad. Teams are permitted two such moves per player, so the Giants had to formally sign him to the roster to keep him on the field. Lalos intercepted a pass, recovered a fumble and was credited with two solo tackles these past two games.

Griffin-Stewart has been on the practice squad since Nov. 24.

View photos from the Week 13 matchup between the Giants and Seahawks at Lumen Field.


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