Odell Beckham Jr. ran over and smashed into the unsuspecting Josh Norman, a helmet-to-helmet crash, the exclamation point on an ultra-physical day between two stars, the Giants receiver and the Carolina cornerback.
“The guy ran 15 yards down the field, dead-on collision,” Norman said of the third-quarter running play yesterday at MetLife Stadium. “The play was all the way on the left side. He came back and was hunting, and it was just like malicious in every way.”
Latest Giants stories
They scrapped early and often. Norman deemed Beckham the aggressor and hit him hard after the Panthers’ 38-35 victory made them a 14-0 team, taking verbal shots at Beckham’s behavior, which drew three flags for personal fouls.
“He’s going to get out here and he’s going to dance around and prance around like he’s a ballerina,” Norman said, talking first about Beckham’s pregame routine. “That goes to show you . . . what kind of player he is.
“You peel back layers and you see. Everybody saw on national TV. Obviously, it’s his second year in the game. The maturity level on him is just as a little kid. I think he needs to grow . . . The guy took a shot at me I don’t know how many times. If you take a shot at a guy’s head, I mean, come on now . . . I think he’s in a dark place.”
Beckham was blanked in the first half for the first time in his career, although he beat Norman for what would’ve been a 52-yard score if he hadn’t dropped the ball. He finished with six catches for 76 yards and a touchdown (at Norman’s expense) that drew the Giants even with 1:46 left.
Although Beckham wouldn’t directly address his clashes with Norman, he did say this about the penalties: “I have learned it all throughout my life, you know: Always the second man gets called.”
Cornerback Cortland Finnegan said: “I think they competed, but at some point, it wasn’t football-related, throwing punches.”
Norman threw Beckham down during the first drive. During the ensuing drive, Beckham returned the favor.
“I know how I can get,” Norman said. “I can just go to that place and let loose and not even care about what’s going on, just strike force that person that’s in front of my face. I think I let loose one time occasionally, but then I caught myself and got back into the game.”
In Norman’s eyes, Beckham should have been ejected for his helmet hit. “I hope the league office takes a look at it and sees what they can do,’’ Norman said, “because players like that don’t need to be in this game.”
Cam Newton summed it up this way: “You’ve got a field full of alpha males. They’re not going to be playing ‘patty cake, patty cake’ out there.”