2005-12-23 / Sports

Tiki Barber: A Giant MVP Among Running Backs

By Joe McDonald Sports Columnist

By Joe McDonald
Sports Columnist

New York Giants’ Tiki Barber escapes from Kansas City Chiefs’ Kendrell Bell during the third quarter in New York’s 27-17 win. (AP/Bill Koustron)
New York Giants’ Tiki Barber escapes from Kansas City Chiefs’ Kendrell Bell during the third quarter in New York’s 27-17 win. (AP/Bill Koustron) He may be the most underrated running back in football. After years of being considered too small and only a third down back, Tiki Barber is finally getting the recognition he deserves.

He just had to rush for a new club record of 220 yards to get noticed.

“The game that Tiki had was just incredible,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin after the Giants manhandled the Chiefs 27-17 at the Meadowlands. “He made so many plays when really not a whole lot was going on, whether we were going strong or weak. We started with a little misdirection and our guys got a little more confidence and then the run game started to come around.”

Barber was the catalyst of the Giants offense yesterday. Like an eel, he slipped through the Chiefs tacklers and made a few big gains for touchdowns, including a 41-yard run, which he broke by numerous defenders.

“I get behind the guys. Plaxico [Burress] was out there blocking and working hard for me and I just kept my feet moving,” Barber praised. “I joke with you guys about the physics of this game sometimes, about just getting your feet off the ground and letting them run into me so I can keep going and that’s what happened. Keep your eye on the prize and you’ll eventually get there.”

The prize was a touchdown and a 7-3 Giant lead in the second quarter. It was the first blow to a Kansas City run defense that before yesterday, was very good at stopping top backs.

“It was a big touchdown for us at that point in the game,” Barber said. “We had a good plan with misdirections to keep them off balance because they attack the strong side and play side really well.”

That was just the start for a guy who should get consideration for NFL MVP. His performance came with a beat up offensive line, which was patched together after injuries last week.

Barber praised his line and had no worries going into the game.

“This is an offensive line that we knew coming into this week was going to be effective for us,” he said. “It was one of the great things in training camp that we talked about several months ago that we had great depth. People go down. We have guys like Rich Seubert, who hasn’t played in three years that has pulled so many runs for me in his career.

Dave Diehl moved out to right tackle and did a great job out there. I give them a lot of credit as well as Amani (Toomer) and Plaxico because those big runs don’t happen without them blocking up field.”

It all made for a great day and one step closer to a possible Super Bowl appearance. After his 20-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to seal the game, the running back was aware history could be made.

“Our line took great pride in it,” he said. “We were packed up in the box the first couple of runs and then we spread out and that allowed me to get it. It’s something I’m very proud of and I think it’s something that we’ll remember for a long time.”

As will the NFL “experts” who are now starting to show Barber some respect.

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