Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants warms up...

Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants warms up during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on Nov. 8, 2015 in Tampa, Fla. Credit: Getty Images / Mike Ehrmann

A few minutes after last Sunday's crushing 27-26 loss to the Patriots, Odell Beckham Jr. still seethed as he stood in front of his locker bemoaning his game-winning touchdown catch that wasn't.

Beckham took the loss harder than most of his teammates or coaches, blaming himself for not holding on to the ball long enough before it was slapped out of his hands by Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler -- he of Super Bowl XLIX game-saving interception fame.

Beckham promised to make up for his mistake. But he vowed something else during his put-it-on-me soliloquy.

A questioner asked if Beckham was concerned that the game -- and three others like it that were lost late in the fourth quarter -- might have a cumulative effect on his team, if not necessarily himself.

Beckham glared at his questioner (OK, it was the guy typing this column).

"What did we start the season off with?" Beckham asked.


"All right, just making sure," the receiver said.

Point taken.

The Giants couldn't have gotten off to a more disheartening start to the season, losing to the Cowboys in the opener, largely as a result of a botched fourth-quarter play-calling sequence because Eli Manning had lost track of the Cowboys' timeouts. A week later, the Giants blew another fourth-quarter lead at home in a 24-20 loss to the Falcons.

With questions about last year's 6-10 season, which included a seven-game losing streak, creeping into the conversation, the Giants bounced back by winning five of their next seven leading into the Patriots game.

Beckham's takeaway: Don't even think that this team will succumb to the disappointment of another gut-wrenching loss heading down the stretch toward this year's playoffs.

Never mind the fact that four of the Giants' five losses have come by a total of nine points. Beckham insists there is no reason to think there will be a carry-over, that a losing mentality has not -- and will not -- creep into the locker room.

"It's a matter of executing," he said. "It's the difference between 9-1 or 10-0 and 5-5. If you look back on it, I don't think there's any reason why we couldn't have been 9-1 or 10-0, whatever the case may be. That being said, it's going to be good."

And there's no reason it can't be good for the Giants, who still hold the lead -- albeit a tenuous one -- in the watered-down NFC East. Heading into next Sunday's pivotal road game against Washington, which is a half- game back at 4-5, the Giants certainly can recover from last week's difficult loss and get on a run heading into the playoffs.

Their most likely path to the postseason is by winning the division, but with Washington, Philadelphia and Dallas all struggling with their own deficiencies, the Giants are best suited to flourish down the stretch. Especially if they don't succumb to any doubts that may have surfaced as a result of four missed opportunities in previous losses.

And with a quarterback who has overcome midseason challenges twice before and won two Super Bowls, there's ample reason to look ahead with optimism.

"We just have to handle our business these next six games," Manning said. "We are in a good position. You would obviously like to have more wins, but we still have the lead in the division, and if we take care of our business and do what we have to do and win these next six games, that would guarantee us a spot in the playoffs.

"We know what we have to do. It starts with Washington, go get a win there and take it week by week and know what it is going to take to get into the playoffs."

The Giants are far from perfect in terms of their roster and their performance. The offensive line has been inconsistent and now is dealing with injuries to center Weston Richburg and guard Justin Pugh.

The running game has been sporadic at best, with offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo insisting on a running-backs-by-committee approach that has yielded inconsistent results.

The defense has its own injury issues as well as inconsistent play from rookie safety Landon Collins, who dropped a potential game-saving interception against the Patriots.

But Jason Pierre-Paul's return after a devastating injury suffered in a July 4 fireworks accident has been a major lift for the pass rush, and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has done a mostly superb job of mixing and matching his talent-challenged defense.

Manning generally has been at the top of his game, which is the major advantage the Giants hold over their division rivals, even with Tony Romo set to return for 2-7 Dallas this weekend.

Of their six remaining games, three are against teams that currently have winning records (the Jets, Vikings and Panthers), with Washington, the Dolphins and the Eagles rounding out the schedule. Running the table is highly unlikely, but a 4-2 record down the stretch could be good enough to win the division. And there's a decent chance that last game against the Eagles will decide first place.

Put it all together, and there's plenty of reason to think Beckham's assurances are well-founded.