Before running through rushing lanes, Saquon Barkley went down a rabbit hole.
As he prepares to make his NFL playoff debut with the Giants on Sunday against the Vikings, the Barkley historian took a few minutes this week to research the running back’s postseason records: Who has the highest total rushing into a game? Who has the most yards and touchdowns in the playoffs? Who won the most championships?
“They say, ‘Study the greats and be the greats,'” Barkley said. “I just went back in time and tried to look up [numbers]try to give me extra motivation to do some things.”
Here’s what Barkley learned: The Rams’ Eric Dickerson rushed for 248 yards against the Cowboys in 1986, and the 49ers’ Raheem Mostert (now with the Dolphins) challenged the mark with 220 against the Packers in 2020.
Emmitt Smith of the Cowboys holds the career rushing records with 1,586 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground in 17 playoff games. Franco Harris, who is second in playoff rushing history with 1,556 yards, and Rocky Blair each won four Super Bowl rings in the same backfield for the Steelers in the 1970s.
Can Barkley envision a future where a young running back is talking about chasing his playoff numbers?
“That’s why you do it: You want to create a legacy, you want to make an impact,” Barkley said. “I’m sitting here just reading names, and I come back and I’m like a kid in a candy store, ‘Oh my God. Dang, do you see this? I didn’t even know [about] that 1,500 yards.’ I hope to one day. The way you do that is to focus on the task at hand.”
Barkley especially enjoyed seeing the late Harris’ playoff resume, given that they met through a connection at Penn State.
“Franco is way before my time. I didn’t expect it to be No. 2,” Barkley said. “I didn’t expect Emmitt to be 1,500. I expected it to be around 900, 1,000. But 1,500 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns is crazy. If you do that in the regular season, that’s one of the best seasons — or definitely an All-Pro season, depending on when you did it and what time you did it.”
Barkley finished with a career-high 1,312 yards in 16 games this season. The Giants can throw the ball at the Vikings, but any chance of a deep playoff run depends on Barkley picking up the load and getting to work on this roster.
“I would love that,” he said. “Try to get to the top of that mountain, and if I don’t get to the top of the mountain, however far I get, at least I’ll know that I had the right mindset and put the right work into it when it’s all said and done, there will be a smile on my face.”