61° Good Morning
61° Good Morning
SportsColumnistsNeil Best

Odell Beckham Jr. is learning that opponents don't enjoy watching him as much as Giants fans do

Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the New York

Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the New York Giants celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the St. Louis Rams during the first quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on Dec. 21, 2014 in St. Louis, Mo. Credit: Getty Images / Dilip Vishwanat

ST. LOUIS - The Education of Odell continues, a crash course made necessary by his stratospheric rise in visibility and accomplishment.

That will only accelerate after his latest tour de force, Sunday's 148-yard, two-touchdown contribution to the Giants' 37-27 victory over the previously fearsome Rams defense.

But this one came with a twist for Odell Beckham Jr.

He learned that his talent, press clippings, budding friendships with the likes of LeBron James (dinner) and Michael Jordan (texting), and, um, dramatic flair have made him a target for opponents who don't find him as charming as the rest of us do.

Did Beckham feel that perhaps he got under the Rams' collective skin, especially after he was penalized for taunting when he spun the ball at his feet in celebrating his first touchdown?

"To an extent, I definitely felt that,'' he said. "From the very first play, it just felt as if there were a bunch of hawks and they were all eyeing you.''

Join the club. It's impossible to take your eyes off this kid.

But that first taunting penalty later was followed by a play on which Beckham drew a taunting call on the Rams' T.J. McDonald, then by a brawl ignited when the Rams' Alec Ogletree gave him a facial, then by a play on which the Rams' Rodney McLeod was flagged for leveling him on an incompletion, only to have the officials change their minds.

Interesting day at the office.

Is Beckham concerned that this sort of thing will become the norm?

"I definitely feel as if teams may scheme and try to change up coverages or whatever,'' he said. "But as far as taking shots out of bounds and doing whatever else extra, I don't see that as part of the game for a lot of other teams in the NFL. If that is the case, you just have to prepare yourself for it.''

Tom Coughlin seemed almost pleased that Beckham finally was flagged for his TD celebration, about which the coaches have warned him. After he scored his second TD -- on an 80-yard catch-and-run -- he handed the ball to an official.

"He will tone it down; he will,'' Coughlin said. "He did.''

Beckham had mixed emotions about the whole thing. On one hand, he said he is young and learning the rules and understands he must be careful not to be penalized. On the other, he insisted he spun the ball at his feet, was not directing the move at any defender and "didn't quite understand the penalty.''

He also did not promise not to do it again. "You get in the end zone, you deserve to celebrate,'' he said. "It's what we work for, so once we get in there, I love to see guys enjoy themselves, be a kid again, love the game.''

Eli Manning warned that Beckham can expect more of this sort of thing if he does not dial down his enthusiasm just a tad.

"They're going to try to not let him high-step and do his things on the sideline, and it looked like they weren't going to let him get away with that or showboat,'' Manning said.

The trick is maintaining his competitive edge and spirit while not provoking the other guys. This was another lesson in that course. But there also remains this timeless truism: Production trumps all.

"They were taking cheap shots,'' safety Antrel Rolle said. "I felt they were trying to take Beckham out of the game.''

Said offensive tackle Justin Pugh: "They definitely wanted to try to intimidate him. They definitely wanted to try to make him not go across the middle. I guess they weren't too effective with their plan. He went off again on them.''

New York Sports