EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – A frustrated Tiki Barber criticized the New York Giants’ play calling on Wednesday, saying abandoning the running game against Jacksonville was a slap in his face and a sure way to lose more games.

The mild blowup from Barber came two days after the Giants (6-4) called only 14 running plays in a 26-10 loss to the Jaguars.

Barber, whose 998 yards rushing are fourth in the NFL, got a season-low 10 carries for 27 yards. He spent most of the second half blocking as Eli Manning threw 27 of his 41 passes.

“We have to find a way to correct it,” Barber said. “That’s the bottom line. I talked about this earlier in the season; if you don’t have balance you can’t win in the NFL. A disproportionate amount of teams that win, win it by running the football.

“That’s football,” Barber added. “It’s not complicated. This is something that teams and kids and coaches do from 12 years old to college and beyond. It isn’t rocket science.”

Barber had not spoken with either coach Tom Coughlin or offensive coordinator John Hufnagel by noon on Wednesday, but he relayed his concerns to running backs coach Jerald Ingram. He expected his message to be passed along.

Coughlin had already spoken with the media before Barber’s comments. He was not available for further comment.

Barber readily admits the Giants did nothing on the ground in the first half against Jacksonville, whose interior line is anchored by big tackles Marcus Stroud and John Henderson. New York rushed seven times for 14 yards.

However, he felt Hufnagel should have kept on calling the run instead of switching to an uptempo, two-minute offense with New York down a touchdown.

“Yeah, it’s a challenge, but we are not scared of anyone,” Barber said. “We have played against the best defenses in this league, against the run and overall, and we’ve run the ball. We’ve done effective things. We have executed in the pass game.

“So I think you put yourself halfway to failure to say we can’t do something because of another team’s personnel,” Barber said. “It’s a slap in the face of me and a slap of my front five guys. We don’t take to that very kindly.”

Barber said there is never a reason for the Giants to get away from their running game. It’s been their strength for years and, when it works, has the added benefit of keeping New York’s defense off the field and taking the pressure off Manning, who has been horrible the past two games.

One thing Barber’s complaints did Wednesday was take Manning off the hot seat. He was surrounded by about two dozen members of the media before Barber spoke, but it seemed much of what he said went unnoticed.

“I have faith in Eli,” Barber said. “I think he will find a way to correct the mistakes he has been making. He can shore up his mechanics and become the leader we saw earlier this season. I really do believe that.”

Barber would also like to believe the Giants will get back to what they do best.

If the coaching staff had any doubts about sticking with the run, Barber said they should watch the San Diego Chargers. Even when they are trailing, they use a balanced attack.

“We got away from it early and never got back to it because we felt like we weren’t executing or finding any type of rhythm, but we never got back to it,” Barber said. “I felt insignificant for the first time in my career – I should say this season – and it was frustrating.”

With six regular-season games left in his career, Barber said he isn’t looking for anything special. All he wants to do is contribute and win.

“I am not here to be a cheerleader, someone who fades into the background,” said Barber, who rushed for a career-high 1,860 yards last season, second best in the league. “My job is to help this team win. The opportunities I get will dictate that.”

“If it gets to the point where I feel I am not doing anything, than normally our team is in trouble.”

AP-ES-11-22-06 1615EST


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