October 30, 2009

2005: Tiki Barber Runs for 206 Yards in Emotional Win Over Redskins

The Week 8 matchup on October 30, 2005 at Giants Stadium between the Giants and Washington Redskins featured two 4-2 teams sitting atop the NFC East standings (along with the Philadelphia Eagles). A layer of poignancy was added to what was already a key division showdown by the death five days previously of Wellington Mara, the 89-year-old co-owner of the franchise.

What resulted was a lopsided 36-0 beating of the Redskins by the emotionally charged Giants, led by running back Tiki Barber’s 206 yards on the ground over just three quarters of action. The defense, which had been subpar in previous weeks, rose to the occasion in this game, shutting out Washington in decisive style, including three turnovers forced in their first 11 possessions. The Redskins managed just 125 total yards and 7 first downs.

But it was Barber who spurred the win, running 57 yards on the first play from scrimmage to set up the initial score (a 39-yard field goal by Jay Feely). It wasn’t his longest run of the day; he went 59 yards in the second quarter to set up a short touchdown by RB Brandon Jacobs. Barber’s 24th and final carry of the game, late in the third quarter, resulted in his lone touchdown of the day and he handed the ball to one of Wellington Mara’s grandchildren before exiting.

The 206 yards weren’t Barber’s season high; he had 220 yards against Kansas City on December 17 and ended up being one of three runners in NFL history with three or more 200-yard games in a season. Criticized for lacking durability and being prone to fumbling earlier in his career, Barber had taken part in an offseason conditioning program that paid off in outstanding performances in 2004, ’05, and ‘06 – he set a Giants single-season rushing record in 2005 with 1860 yards on 357 carries at age 30 and was at his best in his last three years, a rarity among pro running backs.

As for the Giants, they went on to win the NFC East title in 2005, but lost to Carolina in the Wild Card playoff round.