October 10, 2020 | 2:47am
The Giants were unable to move the ball on the ground even before star running back Saquon Barkley went down for the season in Week 2.
That ineptitude extended to the following game without him, but the Giants’ rushing attack — now featuring veteran Devonta Freeman — showed clear signs of life in last week’s 17-9 road loss to the Rams, dropping them to 0-4 entering Sunday’s game against Dallas.
Big Blue ran for 136 yards on 25 attempts against Los Angeles, after totaling just 170 over the first three weeks of the season in losses to the Steelers, Bears and 49ers.
“With the run game, you need all 11 guys, and I feel like we’re starting to click and everybody is starting to do their job,” said Freeman, who was signed after Barkley suffered a torn ACL in Week 2 against Chicago. “To have a successful run game, I think it’s going to take all 11, and once we play unified, I think the sky’s the limit for us.”
That might be aiming a tad high, but it should be noted that this week’s opponent — the Cowboys — have surrendered the second-most rushing yards in the league through a quarter of the season. In the Cowboys’ 49-38 loss last week to Cleveland, the Browns torched them for 307 yards on the ground, including a 50-yard, game-sealing reverse late in the fourth quarter by former Giants wideout Odell Beckham Jr.
“The running game, last week, it was really the first time we were able to consistently run the football in a game,” said Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who served as Dallas’ head coach the previous nine seasons. “That obviously makes everything else [in the offense] be much better.”
Despite his unit not scoring a touchdown for the second consecutive week, Garrett believes the Giants’ offensive line “controlled the line of scrimmage as well as [we] have in the running game all year long.”
Wayne Gallman and quarterback Daniel Jones each accounted for 45 rushing yards, while Freeman chipped in 33 yards on 11 carries. Freeman also contributed four receptions out of the backfield for 35 yards, making the game a marked improvement from his first appearance the previous week, when he totaled just 10 yards from scrimmage.
“I don’t see him as a new guy at all. He’s definitely deep in our building right now, he’s deep in our program,” head coach Joe Judge said of Freeman, a two-time Pro Bowler in his first six seasons in the league with the Falcons. “We’ve got a lot of packages for him put together.
“As far as getting caught up on our playbook, I think he accomplished that a couple weeks ago. Obviously, that first weekend here, it’s really getting on the terminology and verbiage, make sure he’s speaking the same language. I don’t see any issues with that going forward. I’m excited to have him on the team.”