Running Back Saquon Barkley
Q: Did you know (Former Steelers Running Back) Franco Harris at all?
A: I got to have some conversations with him at Penn State. Obviously, I saw the news this morning. I just want to pay my respects to his family. Franco was a great guy. The conversations I was able to have with him, him being a legend. Obviously, the amazing play he made for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The stuff that he was able to do at Penn State. It was an honor to meet him. Like I said, sad, sad news and I just want to give my respects to his family.
Q: Can you imagine making that play? He was such an instinct player.
A: Actually in college, I never made that play, but that was kind of the example that our coach, coach (Penn State Running Backs Coach Charles) Huff, would use to get us to chase the ball in practice. Obviously, the thought process behind it, if you chase ball it's extra conditioning and you get yourself in better football shape and ready for the season. When you chase the ball, good things happen. That's kind of with everything, that's kind of the background of where that mentality came from.
Q: Did you feel better last week? The numbers seemingly indicated that.
A: I felt like I felt the week before, outside you know with the neck, and I felt like I felt the week before that. Just was able to get into a grove, was able to get into a rhythm, in a key spot, a critical part of the game. I've just got to find a way to do that earlier in the game for us. The o-line played amazing. The o-line gave me opportunities, especially at the end and we were able to go down. I wish we would have scored and just ended it, but we were able to get three points and leave it up to our defense who's been playing amazing all year and finished the job for us.
Q: How much did you feel that the adrenaline of that last drive really helps take it to another level? You can see it there. It didn't look like, that's not just a normal drive of any normal game. You can tell every run you were really pumped after every single run.
A: Yeah, I guess it's the situation – being aware there definitely does help. A key drive, you want to take your game to another level and was able to do that. Helped us get to position to get three points but being greedy, I guess you could say, I feel like there's still more out there. We've got to end the game with the ball in our hand with a touchdown.
Q: Are you letting yourself feel the emotion of getting a playoff spot?
A: The only way we get that is if we control what we can control, right? That's the focus. Keep the main thing the main thing. We're going against a great team in Minnesota who has a great defense, a very veteran defense. It's going to be a great matchup.
Q: What do you think of the idea that it can happen this week? There are scenarios where you do clinch a playoff berth.
A: Want to update me on the scenarios?
Q: You guys win and then two of those other three teams – Washington, Seattle or Detroit loses.
A: I just learned that today, right now. But like I said, the first thing you said is we win, right? We've got to focus on us. We can't really worry or be concerned with what happens outside of that. We put ourselves to be in position to be in the driver's seat and that's the beauty of it. We've got to capitalize on that.
Q: Have you allowed yourself to think about what that would mean to you to make the playoffs?
A: No, I don't have time for it.
Q: That's a surprising answer. You've waited five years to get to this point.
A: I mean, yeah. One, because I kind of just try to live in the moment and then knowing me, knowing how I think – God willing everything goes right and we do capitalize the playoffs it's just like; the goal is to make it to the playoffs, but it's not like you won the Super Bowl. It just gives you a chance to compete for that. That's how I look at it. That's the goal, you want to accomplish that to give yourself a chance to do that. I'll have fun, be happy with my teammates. Obviously, it's a great accomplishment but it's not the grandaddy of them all…can you say that, or is that the Rose Bowl? (laughs)
A: Yeah, same thing. Same thing.
Q: It would be a great Christmas gift, to make the playoffs?
A: A good Christmas gift would be a win. That's what we're focused on.
Q: Was there a moment this year at all where things maybe felt a little bit different for you guys – that this wasn't going to be like the past years where there were so many struggles and you would have a chance to make the playoffs?
A: Yeah, you don't really come to the season or any part of the week where you're like, 'Oh, we're not good enough,' or, 'Oh, this is not going to happen.' I remember my rookie year, we got eliminated from the playoffs, and we went 5-9. But my thought process was we still had a chance. Until you're out of the playoffs, you still have a chance. Maybe that might be wishful thinking mindset, but that's how I like to view things. It isn't over until the fat lady sings. That's how I go about things. There's never one part of the season where you come in with a negative mindset where like, 'Oh, that's not going to happen.' You envision that, you go to sleep, you think about that. You dream about that. You have positive thoughts. I feel like if you put positive thoughts into the world or give off positive energy, it's going to come back at you.
Q: I'll throw out, unfortunately, a moderately negative thought. Your offense scored 13 points last week. When you think of that – and it's a team game; you won the game. We get that. Moving forward, especially with the Vikings, who scored 39 points after halftime – is there a sense that there's so much more out there that you guys can do on offense?
A: Of course. Of course. There's so much more out there. But at the end of the day, the objective and the goal is to win games. But we want to be dominant. We want to score however many points we can score. The way we do that is just by being your biggest critic. Even after a great win like last week, coming in and watching film on your own, putting it in the past and moving on from it and seeing what we can do to advance from that. Like you said, the Vikings do a great job at putting points on the board. But at the end of the day, we've got to play our style of football. However many points we've got to score to win the game, that's what we've got to try to do.
Q: You've had, obviously, monster runs and monster games here. But the three straights runs that you had down the stretch there, is that even for a running back of your stature – does that kind of get you going? It's not just one. It's one, two, three where you feel like, 'Okay, they can't stop me'?
A: You, as they would say, you get in your bag. That means you get in your zone. You start feeling good. Obviously, ripping off the first one and you get into the second one, third one. For me, I just want to figure out how I can get four, five, six. That's where I've got to get to, especially down the stretch.
Q: Also, maybe early in games too? You've said that for a while how you want to start faster, earlier. Does that go through your head like, 'Okay, I did that in the fourth quarter. Let's see if we can get that in the first quarter?'
A: I know it's there. I know I'm capable of doing it. But at the end of the day, that's the beauty of sports. It's an 11-man game. I've got to just continue to trust the system, continue to trust the offense, which I know the o-line is going to do a great job. When they give me those opportunities, I've got to make them pay for it. Whether that happens in the fourth quarter, it happens in the fourth quarter. If it happens in the first quarter, it happens in the first quarter. Whenever it comes, I've got to be ready for that moment. I've got to continue to look for the moment. I can't reach for it. It happens. Make them pay.
Q: It could happen in all four quarters, too, right?
A: Yeah, it could happen in all four. That would be a beautiful thing.
Q: You've said a lot in the past that this team is going to be turned around. You always said not if, when things turn around. Are we here now?
A: It's the truth. I can't really talk around it to be honest. Yeah, I feel like this is something we can do for a very long time. We have a lot of great talent in this locker room. I think (general manger) Joe (Schoen) and all those guys upstairs, and Dabs (head coach Brian Daboll) have done a tremendous job for us and put us in positions and created a roster that can go out there and win games. I feel like the future is bright, but you can't really get too caught up in the future. You've got to live in the moment. You've got to live in the now. We've got a great opportunity now. We've got to capitalize on that.
Q: We don't know anything officially, but what would making the Pro Bowl mean to you, given how hard you've worked to get back this season? Was that a goal you had for this year?
A: What would it mean making the Pro Bowl? I can't sit here and be like, 'Oh, it wouldn't mean anything,' because that's part of the fans. The fans vote and give you an opportunity to get in there and then also coaches and players vote. It just shows the respect of your peers and the respect of the fans out there. I'll just be more thankful, show more gratitude to those people, because the only way you get in is because of that. Obviously, it's determined with the play that you do on the football field, but I'll just be more thankful and show gratitude to the people that voted me in.