Originally created 12/31/06

Tiki, Giants run wild



LANDOVER, MD. - Tiki Barber didn't want his career to end here, not on a Saturday night against a losing team in front of thousands of empty seats. He put the New York Giants on his shoulders and led them to victory - and probably the playoffs.

And he did it with the best game of his 10-year NFL career.

In his last regular-season game, Barber carried 23 times for 234 yards - a career high and franchise record - and three touchdowns Saturday night in a 34-28 victory over the Washington Redskins.

The victory ended New York's seven-week free fall just in time for the Giants to make the postseason as a .500 team.

The Giants (8-8), who had lost six of seven and had home fans chanting for coach Tom Coughlin's firing last week, are in the playoffs for the second year in a row - their first back-to-back appearances since 1989-90 - unless a highly improbable series of results today allows Green Bay to take the NFC's final spot.

Barber broke a tackle in a 55-yard run - his longest rush of the season - and also kept his feet as he stumbled for a 15-yard score, with both touchdowns coming in the second quarter.

His crowning feat was a 50-yard run 6:13 remaining in the game. He cut left, then right, broke Troy Vincent's tackle and outran the defense to restore a 13-point lead that slowed Washington's second-half rally.

Barber passed the 1,500-yard mark for the third consecutive season - he has 1,662 - and also caught three passes for 24 yards. Barber's previous best rushing game was 220 yards in December 2005 against Kansas City, which also was the franchise record.

Barber starred on a night when his offensive teammates were ordinary, even with quarterbacks coach Kevin Gilbride taking over the play-calling duties from offensive coordinator John Hufnagel.

Eli Manning went 12-for-26 for 101 yards and a touchdown, and no Giants receiver other than Barber caught more than two passes.

If the Giants were sputtering into the postseason, the Redskins were sputtering into infamy.

Washington set the NFL record for fewest takeaways in a non-strike season - 12 - after going yet another game without forcing a turnover or interception. The previous mark was 15, set two years ago by Green Bay.