After five weeks of penalties, fines and a little less than expected from a player of his caliber, it looks as if Odell Beckham Jr . is finally getting it.
The New York Giants receiver curbed his emotions for the most part, avoided any extracurricular activity with his opponents and went out and simply played football against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
Other than fumbling after making his first catch, Beckham was his old self, the one prior to bumping into Josh Norman last year. He was unstoppable.
The 23-year-old receiver caught eight passes for a career-high 222 yards, including a winning 66-yard catch and run on slant pass with 1:24 to play to give the Giants (3-3) a 27-23 win over the Ravens that just may have saved a season that was on the brink after three straight losses.
“That’s what we expect him to do,” said quarterback Eli Manning , who completed 32 of 46 for 403 yards. “We got some looks that we wanted. We were able to get to a couple plays that we’ve kind of had on the shelf for a few weeks, we just never quite got the looks that we wanted to get to them. Today, we got some of those and converted on them. It was good to see him make some bigtime plays in crucial moments.”
What made the performance even better was that Beckham had to leave the field in the second quarter with a hip pointer. He returned before halftime and really stepped up his game in the second half, catching six passes for 211 yards, including a 75-yarder for a touchdown and a 43-yarder that set up one of Josh Brown’s two field goals.
Beckham said his hip hurt most of the game and he was late meeting with reporters after the game because he needed treatment.
“I think we’re on the way. It’s just a matter. It’s only one game,” Beckham said. “We have to go out next week and do the same thing. That’s the only way you’re going to be able to tell if you’re hitting your stride.”
If Beckham can continue to play this way, the Giants are going to have a chance to get to the playoffs for the first time since 2011. If Beckham lets his emotions and poor conduct return, they may not stand a chance.
Fellow receiver Victor Cruz smiled when asked if Sunday’s game was Beckham at his best.
“Two-hundred, twenty-two yards! You tell me,” Cruz said. “Absolutely. That’s what he does. That’s what we are accustomed to. That’s him in a nutshell. We just want to continue to keep him doing those types of things and making those plays for our team.”
The loss was the third straight for the Ravens (3-3), but it didn’t hurt because Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Cleveland all lost. Baltimore remains a game behind the first-place Steelers in the AFC North.
“It’s a tough league,” Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. “It’s a lot of tough games and a long road ahead. We’ve got to stay as confident as we can and we’ve got to move forward and just keep our head down – and our division is still up for grabs, and a lot of things are, so we got to keep fighting and do our best to win games.
PENALTIES AND INJURIES
The Ravens entered averaging more than seven penalties a game. They were flagged 15 times on Sunday for 111 yards. Keep that up and they will continue to lose.
Baltimore also has to get healthy. It started the game without WR Steve Smith St., T Ronnie Stanley, G Marshal Yanda, returnman Devin Hester Sr. and LB C.J. Mosely. CB Jimmy Smith sustained a first-half concussion and LB Terrell Suggs was nursing an arm injury after the game.
NEW OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR
Marty Mornhinweg worked his first game as the Raven offensive coordinator. Baltimore had 391 yards in total offense, and Flacco was certainly allowed to throw the ball downfield more. He had a 70-yard pass to Mike Wallace and a 41-yard to Breshad Perriman. A long pass to Perriman also resulted in a pass interference that gave Baltimore a first-and-goal at the New York 8 that led to Terrance West’s second TD and the lead late. Beckham wiped it out quickly.
The Giants defense came up with a fourth-and-goal stop on West from the 1 early in the fourth quarter, and it stopped the Ravens after they got to the 24-yard line in the waning seconds. New York also had two sacks and six quarterback pressures.
Ravens: In a scheduling oddity, Baltimore is back at MetLife Stadium to play the Jets next Sunday.
Giants: head to London, where they will be the visitors against the Rams in an early game on Sunday, with a 9:30 a.m. EDT kickoff.