For all the antics, for all the drama, for all the not-so-subtle moves that scream “pay attention to me”, there are games like Monday.
Odell Beckham turned in a nearly flawless performance in the Giants’ 21-20 win over the Bengals Monday night. The stat line was impressive — 10 catches, 97 yards, and a touchdown — but the impact he had on the game loomed even larger.
Where would the Giants be without Beckham? Probably not in the playoff hunt.
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Beckham was, hands down, the best player on a field with the incredible Geno Atkins and arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL, A.J. Green. And in a game where the margin was so tight, that has to be considered the difference in the contest.
In a game where Giants quarterback Eli Manning seemed constantly under siege, Beckham was equal parts safety blanket and big-play threat. Usually, it's a run game that keeps a defense honest, but the Giants don't have much of one, so Beckham took over that role Monday. His steady gains, just as much as Cincinnati’s offensive malfunctions down the stretch, tilted Monday’s game in New York’s favor.
Monday night’s game wasn’t a must-win for the Giants, but in a highly competitive NFC East, where all four teams are above .500 and in the thick of the playoff race, a New York loss at home would likely have proved regrettable come Week 17. There's not much margin for error.
But thanks in large part to Beckham’s big game, the Giants are 6-3 — winners of four straight and sitting in second in the division, well in position to make the postseason heading into the final seven games of the season.
You can pin much of the Giants' hot streak to the resurgent play of Beckham, who started the season with decent yardage stats but no touchdowns and a bit of a screw loose. A few weeks ago, the Giants’ press conferences and media availabilities were consumed with talk of sports psychiatrists and general worry — serious worry, in some cases — that one of the NFL’s brightest stars had gone past the point of eccentricity. Under the bright lights of the league’s largest media market, it was feared that the Giants star wide receiver, who found fame in an instant, had cracked.
But then Beckham went off for 222 yards and two touchdowns against the Baltimore Ravens — the first of the Giants’ now four-straight wins. Two weeks later, another two touchdowns in a critical game against Philadelphia.
Manning was still finding himself on his back on nearly every passing play and the Giants run game never improved from pitiful, but Beckham was good enough to make those two things seem like afterthoughts.
Beckham is back to his All-Pro self. He seems to have found some normalcy off the field as well. He's not crying on the sidelines anymore, so that's a positive.
When Beckham was spiraling, it was fairly asked why the Giants bother to put up with him.
If you watched Monday night’s game, you know exactly why.