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First call: Saquon Barkley hits rookie milestone; taking ‘tips’ from Sidney Crosby | TribLIVE.com
Breakfast With Benz

First call: Saquon Barkley hits rookie milestone; taking ‘tips’ from Sidney Crosby

Tim Benz
| Monday, December 31, 2018 7:06 a.m
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New York Giants' Saquon Barkley, top, scores a touchdown just before the ball is knocked from his hands during the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

“First Call” for New Year’s Eve features stellar performances from Pitt and Penn State favorites. The Jaguars are a disaster, so that’s fun. And, for as enjoyable as it was to read Jim Lites rip into his own players, was any of it, you know, accurate?


Barkley busts the record books

Penn State product Saquon Barkley passed a major milestone for NFL rookies in style Sunday.

That run put Barkley over 2,000 yards from scrimmage in 2018. The only other rookies to achieve that mark were Edgerrin James and Eric Dickerson. They each were named offensive rookie of the year in their first seasons. Barkley should earn the same honor with the Giants.

Barkley ended the season with 2,028 yards from scrimmage. New York’s blossoming superstar also broke the rookie record for pass receptions by a running back.

He finished the year with 91 catches. Reggie Bush had the old record at 88. I don’t know what the rookie mark is for planted defenders via stiff-arm. But I’m sure Barkley set that mark, too. That one on Jeff Heath of Dallas should count for two.

Plus he had this 3-yard dunk of a touchdown.

That’s kind of like taking off from the free-throw line, right? I mean with pads n’all?

Despite Barkley’s 143 yards from scrimmage, the Giants still lost to Dallas, 36-35, to finish 5-11.


Finishing strong

Who knows how things will go for Pitt in their Sun Bowl game against Stanford. A former Panther great went out with a bang Sunday, though.

Larry Fitzgerald made this one-handed touchdown grab in Arizona’s season finale.

Fitzgerald also hit the 1,300-reception mark. Tony Gonzalez (1,325) and Jerry Rice (1,549) are the only other players to reach that total. He did it in fewer games (234) than either of them.


Bunch of babies

After surging into the AFC Championship game last year, the Jaguars fell apart in 2018. They finished 5-11, closing out by losing three of four, including Sunday’s uninspired 20-3 defeat in Houston.

Running backs T.J. Yeldon and Leonard Fournette were so visibly disengaged, they drew public admonishment from vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin.

Fournette and Yeldon were seen on the bench nearly the entire game, refusing to participate on the sidelines even during offensive series. Fournette was inactive. Yeldon was dressed but didn’t get a touch.


Here’s a little New Year’s tip for ya

Every time Sidney Crosby scores one of his patented tip-in or swat-out-of-the-air goals, we declare it one of the great examples of hand-eye coordination in the history of pro sports.

Even though he does it all the time.

Maybe we are right to do that. But if we are, then what should we do with this doozie from Connor McDavid?

It’s “Sid-esque” at the least, no? As was Jake Guentzel’s.

And don’t forget Zach Aston-Reese, who took a page out of Sid’s net-front handbook.


Pfft. Facts? Please!

You may have seen Dallas Stars CEO Jim Lites light-up his two best players. While speaking to the media after a 2-0 win over Nashville last week, Lites called Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn “(expletive) horse (expletive),” among other niceties and glowing reviews of their play, which you can read here.

Some of the criticisms included a lack of willingness from Seguin to go to high-danger areas, the Stars winning that specific game in spite of those two and Seguin whining about hitting the post too much.

Wow. It made Jim Rutherford’s assessment of the Penguins this season look like mild criticism at worst.

Here’s the problem. A lot of what Rutherford said was right. Much of what Lites said was wrong, or highly exaggerated. At least according to “The Point.”

That’s why, as you may expect, Benn didn’t exactly take the comments well.

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