EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The final score of Big Blue’s fourth preseason game wasn’t important. It was the status of their offensive MVP that was on everyone’s mind.
Big Blue stumbled to Gang Green for the seventh consecutive preseason, 28-7, but the real scare came in the second quarter when RB Tiki Barber pulled his left hamstring at the end of a spectacular 54-yard run.
“It’s not necessarily a hamstring pull, it’s just real tight,” Head Coach Jim Fassel said. “I don’t think it’s real serious.”
“Right now it feels tight and sore, but I don’t think it’s that serious,” Barber said. “I’ll be ready for opening day.”
Barber took the toss and headed off right tackle. He broke a few tackle attempts and reversed field and started down the left sideline. At about the Jets 20-yard line, Barber hurdled former teammate Sam Garnes before heading to paydirt.
“The Jets did a good job of cutting me off,” Barber said. “I cut back the other way to get away from the linebacker, and right then I felt a pull. I kept running all the way across the field, and no one on the Jets would tackle me, so I had to just keep running.”
As Barber neared the end zone, insult was added to injury. Barber was about to cross the goal line for the Giants first points of the game when Jets CB Aaron Beasley knocked the ball free just inches before Barber scored. Jets CB Donnie Abraham recovered the free ball in the end zone for a touchback. Fassel challenged the call, but it was upheld.
“I broke a fundamental rule in football – something I learned when I was 12 years old,” Barber explained. “When running down the left sideline, you must put the ball in your left arm. Aaron Beasley really did a good job of staying with the play.”
The only bright spot of the game for the Giants came in the fourth quarter. QB Jesse Palmer led a 10-play, 64-yard drive that RB Delvin Joyce capped with a 6-yard TD run. Palmer was 3-5 on Big Blue’s only scoring march of the game while Joyce rushed for 29 yards.
Despite the lopsided loss, Fassel was still positive after the contest. “We have a chance to be a good football team,” he said. “The only thing that can knock us down is injuries.”