LANDOVER, Md. — Under ordinary circumstances, Odell Beckham Jr. is the one who makes that 44-yard catch to set up the winning field goal in the fourth quarter. Instead, Beckham was on the sideline cheering on seldom-used receiver Tavarres King as he caught Eli Manning’s pass down the left sideline. It got the Giants in position for Robbie Gould’s 40-yard field goal with 2:12 left in the fourth quarter that gave the Giants a three-point lead on the way to a 19-10 win over Washington on Sunday.
Rather than take any unnecessary risks with his prized receiver, Ben McAdoo used what he called a “coach’s decision” to take Beckham out in the second half and look ahead to next week’s playoff game.
Beckham renewed his rivalry with cornerback Josh Norman, but this time it was the Washington cornerback who came away looking small in trying to bait Beckham — all to no avail.
“That’s been dead for a long time,” Beckham said of his competition with the outspoken cornerback, which blew up in last year’s Giants-Panthers game when Beckham launched himself helmet-first at Norman’s helmet and was suspended for a game. “I’m really focused on us and going to the playoffs right now. It doesn’t really bother me.
“I personally feel like I put that [rivalry with Norman] to bed, but if I sneeze wrong, it might be a problem. Today I just came out and focused on football. I’m really trying to learn, especially going into the playoffs. I don’t care about any foolishness or any stuff that goes on outside the lines.”
Norman drew a penalty on the Giants’ second-quarter touchdown drive for hitting Beckham out of bounds and then incurred an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty after the two collided in the third quarter.
“He’s grown up,” fellow receiver Victor Cruz said of Beckham. “He’s finally taking my advice. He’s finally putting it to use out there. But no, it was good to see him just grow up and be the kid we all know he is, the bright, smiley young kid that he is, and he knows [Norman] is a guy who is going to try to get under his skin and do things to him, and he rose above that.”
Cruz said it was “extremely important” for Beckham to show restraint. “Obviously, we need him to be him, and that’s all we need,’’ he said. “We don’t need anything after the whistle or anything after the play. We just need him calm and going out there playing football.
“I think he understands the moment,’’ Cruz added. “I think he understands what this means not just for him but this organization and this specific team this year, and I think he’s excited about it.”
Beckham consistently has said his main goal is to win a Super Bowl, and he’s now in position to accomplish that for the first time in his three-year career.
He also achieved a noteworthy statistical milestone. With five catches for 44 yards, he finished with 101 catches, joining Steve Smith (107) as the only Giants receivers in franchise history to top 100 receptions in a season.
Now for the fun part.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to play in the playoffs, period,” Beckham said. “It’s something you dreamed of when you were young. I’ve watched this game for a very long time, and to have my own opportunity in there, it’s something special. I definitely wouldn’t want to be with any other team than this and go make a run. We’ll see what happens.”