NY Giants rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. resembles a member of The Golden Lords gang from Robert Townsend’s underrated 1993 flick, Meteor Man. And before Sunday Night’s performance against the Dallas Cowboys the extra terrestrial talent was as obscure as the aforementioned movie.
Regardless of what Beckham does for the rest of his career (which looks like it’s going to be poppin’) his defining moment has already occurred in the 11th game of his inaugural NFL campaign.
On the first play of the second quarter of Sunday night's 31-28 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium, Beckham pulled down a legendary one-handed catch while falling backward and fighting off defensive pass interference in the process.
The 43-yard TD gave the Giants a 14-3 lead and in one night Beckham goes from backup dancer for the Salsa Master (injured All-Pro Victor Cruz) to his official introduction as the “Hands of God.”
That might be hyperbole but it’s the only way to describe Beckham’s mighty mitts after he snagged that pass as it was almost past him and a few feet over his head.
With the Giants now struggling at 3-8 and all but eliminated from playoff contention, Sunday’s home game against Dallas was the equivalent of their 2014 Super Bowl.
Beckham’s grab wasn’t in the fourth-quarter of an actual NFL title game against the undefeated Patriots, but it was against a 7-3 and hated Dallas squad (now 8-3) looking to stay in a first-place tie with Philly in the NFC East.
David Tyree did the impossible and caught an Eli Manning jump ball off of his helmet to set up the winning score and spoil the first 19-0 season in NFL history for Tom Brady’s squad in 2008. The stakes were much higher then, but in level of difficulty, Beckham Jr.’s catch might get the nod.
Beckham Jr. torched the Dallas secondary for eight grabs, 125 yards and a couple of scores in the first half as the increasingly dysfunctional Manning had his most efficient half of the season completing 13-14 passes.
Unfortunately for NY, Manning returned to form by the third-quarter and started missing wide open receivers. His most egregious error was missing a wide open Preston Parker deep in Cowboys territory, which led to an interception and eventual Dez Bryant TD. It was Bryant’s 49th career TD and tied him for the most scores in the first five years by any player in Cowboys history. It also gave Dallas its first lead of the game at 24-21.
The Cowboys also beefed up the “D” on Beckham, holding him to 1 catch for 12 yards in the third quarter.
There was one particular play near the end of the third-quarter that exemplified the shift in momentum that occurred in the second half. Beckham Jr. was open by about 15 yards on a fly pattern and Manning got all skittish and instead of airing it out for an easy six he checked down to his running back for a short gain.
If the Giants had any thoughts of an upset, it ended with that missed opportunity, because shortly after, Beckham was finished as a game-changer.
With 12:34 left in the fourth quarter, Beckham went over the middle for his 10th catch and was tackled by two Dallas defenders. One of the defenders gave him an elbow to the lower back. He got up and then took his helmet off, briefly rested on one knee and then laid face up on the turf to receive assistance from the Giants medical staff. Then, to the dismay of the MetLife Stadium faithful, he left the game with what NBC correspondents reported as a "back injury."
Once Beckham Jr. was gone the Giants lost some energy, but his return a few plays later reflected admirably on his toughness. And although he wasn’t being targeted, his presence on the field obviously opened up some opportunities in the ground game and for other receivers. Manning was able to put together a 14-play, 93-yard drive capped by a short TD toss to Adrien Robinson that gave Big Blue a 28-24 lead with 3:00 left.
The offense had done its part, now it was pretty much up to the Giants D, which has also failed them many times this season, especially late in games, when they needed key stops.
As usual, what they gave you was a lesson in self-destruction.
Predictably, Dallas running back DeMarco Murray was able to get a first down on a huge 3rd and 1 right before the 2:00 warning. Then, after a Giants neutral zone infraction, Romo hits diminutive receiver Cole Beasley over the middle for a gain of 32 yards into Giants territory. The next play was defensive holding on the Giants, but Romo had 7.6 seconds to throw, so he easily completed a “free play” pass down to the Giants 21-yard line. On the next play Romo had more than eight seconds to throw the ball and he hit Dez Bryant in the corner for what would end up being the winning score--but not before the Giants add more insult to injury.
So in comes Manning and his 26 fourth-quarter game-winning drives with 1:01 left in the game, the Giants trailing by three and on the brink of losing their sixth-straight game. A field goal would at least prolong the agony.
Rashard Jennings dropped the first-down pass, which was sort of an omen. On third-and-two Eli misses a wide-open receiver with another high pass. On fourth-and-two he hits Jennings over the middle for an apparent first down. The refs initially give the Giants the first down spot, but after a booth review, the call is reversed and in typical fashion, the Giants let another game slip away.
Beckham Jr.’s game was a microcosm of the Giants’ season. They’ve lacked consistency and killer instinct. They’ve been the recipients of every tough luck situation imaginable. Just when the light at the end of the tunnel is visible, a cloud of darkness swoops in and reminds everyone of just how outmanned and hated by the football gods this team is.
The greatest catch you’ve ever seen couldn’t even change that. Actually, by the end of the game we all kind of forgot it ever happened.