Odell Beckham Jr. comes through with key catch
Clinging to a five-point lead with 4:14 to play, the Giants faced a critical third-down play from their 24. A first down here, and they could bleed the clock for an important stretch in an attempt to put away the Bucs, who had cut an 11-point deficit to two earlier in the quarter.
No surprise here that Odell Beckham Jr. would figure in the play. He has been Eli Manning's go-to guy since he first stepped onto the field last year. But the Bucs knew it was coming, too, so the degree of difficulty was that much bigger.
Manning took the snap, faded back quickly and fired a low pass to his left where only Beckham could catch it. And as he has done so often in his short but brilliant career, Beckham made the play, getting his hands under the ball to secure the catch and keep the drive going in what became a 32-18 victory.
"Odell made a heck of a play to get a first down," coach Tom Coughlin said.
Manning saw the coverage and knew he had a chance.
"It was man-to-man, working him on the outside on that route," he said. "I had 'off' coverage and Beckham ran a good route.
"It was tight, but we needed a first down right there. They played it pretty well and I tried to put it in a safe spot. He did a great job of getting his hands underneath the ball and making that catch. A huge third-down conversion. They had a little momentum going offensively, and to get that, run some more clock, make them use timeouts, was huge."
The Giants weren't able to run out the clock entirely, but Josh Brown's 44-yard field goal with 23 seconds to play gave the Giants an eight-point lead.
It was another clutch catch by Beckham, albeit far less dramatic than some of his other highlight-reel plays. He wound up with nine catches for 105 yards.
"That was a big play. We needed a big first down," he said. "Eli and I connected and that kept the drive alive."
With his nine catches, Beckham reached 150 receptions faster than any other player in NFL history, doing so in only 21 games. His 150 catches already are the most in a two-year span in Giants history, and Beckham has tied the record for fewest games to reach 2,000 yards. He has 2,064.
The numbers weren't foremost in Beckham's mind after the game, though.
"We get the 'W,' '' he said. "We get outta here, we get on the bus."
He was pleased by the way the Giants finished.
"It's great to see progress, where in the past, we may not have finished the game the same way we did today,'' he said. "We got the job done."
Beckham was targeted a whopping 17 times, more than three times as many as fellow wideout Rueben Randle, who caught an 8-yard touchdown pass.
"I thought early on, we were moving the ball around," Manning said. "Got Rueben in there, the tight end [Will Tye], got Shane [Vereen] involved, but I guess in the second half, they were playing some man-to-man and that was the matchup we like to win on man-to-man coverage. We just got to hit a few more [with Beckham] than we did earlier."