EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 14: Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants gets tackled by Vince Williams #98 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter in the game at MetLife Stadium on September 14, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Saquon Barkley didn’t start off the 2020 season all too hot, only rushing for six yards in the New York Giants’ loss to the Steelers.

After an injury-plagued 2019 campaign that saw Saquon Barkley just surpass 1,000 yards rushing, New York Giants fans were hoping this was the year their running back would get things back on track. His 2018 season was jaw-dropping, and the organization needed Saquon to return to that type of producer.

Monday night was the initial test — a Week 1 regular-season matchup against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium. Sure, Pittsburgh employs a great defense led by Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt, and Cameron Heyward, but Barkley possesses the talent needed to take on any challenge.

Except, this challenge was just too much. The third-year back ended the game with six rushing yards on 15 carries, becoming the sixth player since the AFL-NFL merger to finish with a rushing total of fewer than 10 yards when carrying the ball at least 15 times.

“I gotta do better,” Barkley said after the game, per Art Stapleton of The Record. “I gotta do better. Gotta get the run game going.”

Of course, there’s not much Barkley can say besides that. He did indeed mention that he doesn’t pay much mind to stats and additionally gave the Steelers defense the credit it deserves, but all Barkley can really do is undergo a positive week of practice and redeem himself this Sunday against the Bears.

There were other factors that contributed to Barkley’s rough outing, including the mediocre-to-poor performance from the offensive line. Right tackle Cam Fleming and center Nick Gates both experienced below-average games and will need to right the wrongs ahead of Week 2.

Barkley did produce a bit better in the passing game, notching six receptions on nine targets for 60 yards, including a 38-yard catch-and-run on a screen pass from Daniel Jones. Nonetheless, his total production just wasn’t enough, contributing to what was a 26-16 defeat.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.