It was the most important game of the past six seasons for the New York Giants, and there was running back Saquon Barkley, jumping and windmilling his left arm to get the home crowd stoked for his quarterback during a Week 17 rout of the Indianapolis Colts.

Barkley was enjoying the moment as Daniel Jones was leaving the field to a standing ovation as the Giants clinched their first playoff bid since 2016.

Barkley was among the first to embrace the quarterback, one of his best friends on the team. They golf together and vacation together, most recently jetting to Miami for a quick getaway after the season.

Together, Barkley and Jones have been through the NFL's abyss during a string of dreadful seasons when there seemed to be little hope for the floundering franchise. Now, what they had talked about and envisioned so many times during those years was becoming a reality. They finally were on the right side of things in that playoff-clinching win.

"I told him, 'I love you,'" Barkley said of his on-field embrace with Jones, the emotion overflowing because all the years of hard work were paying off.

The Giants made the playoffs with a 9-7-1 record and won a playoff game in Minnesota, but they were bounced in the divisional round by the Philadelphia Eagles. It left unfinished business for Jones and Barkley that might never come to fruition, even though the Giants would prefer to re-sign each of their two best offensive players, who are also impending free agents.