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Odell Beckham Jr. turns heads in debut

Odell Beckham #13 of the Giants hauls in

Odell Beckham #13 of the Giants hauls in a reception in the third quarter of a game against Kemal Ishmael #36 of the Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Odell Beckham Jr. still hasn't gone through a full practice with the Giants. The first-round wide receiver from LSU injured a hamstring in May and reinjured it in his first training camp workout, sparking a soap opera of sorts as coach Tom Coughlin made no secret of his impatience, if not anger.

"You could say a first impression lasts forever," Beckham said Sunday of his trials. "Sometimes I wish I could have left a better impression, maybe. Then he wouldn't have acted the way he did, or I wouldn't have acted the way I did."

Beckham and Coughlin are over it now. Although Beckham practiced only four times on a limited basis last week, he made a great first impression on Giants fans and his teammates in his NFL debut with an acrobatic 15-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter for the go-ahead score in their 30-20 victory over the Falcons.

Beckham caught four passes for 44 yards, and the one time Eli Manning targeted him on a deep ball that missed, Beckham was so wide-open that it scared the heck out of the Falcons' defense and opened things up for the Giants' offense.

Unlike Coughlin, Giants fans gave Beckham a rousing welcome when he caught a 7-yard pass during their first-quarter touchdown drive. "It kind of gave me a chill," Beckham said. "To have our fans behind me like that after everything that's happened and the extent of time I've been out, it's just great to get their support."

That was Beckham's only first-half catch, but after the Falcons took a 20-10 lead in the third quarter, Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo called Beckham's number deep down the left side on first down. He was open, but Manning got pressure and threw the ball away.

"He's a guy who can take the top off with his speed and his strength to go over the top," receiver Victor Cruz said. "It changes things. It opens up our playbook to continue to call those down-the-field passes. It's good for us."

That drive ended with a touchdown run by rookie Andre Williams. On the Giants' next drive, Beckham caught a 14-yarder and then beat cornerback Robert Alford, who was flagged for holding, for the touchdown that put the Giants in front 24-20.

"Since it was a double-move route, I had an idea the ball was coming," Beckham said. "I just saw it go up. I was thinking in my head, 'There's no way I'm going to let it hit the ground.' That feeling is something I can't even describe."

Beckham's effect on his own team was electric. The offense came to life for 20 unanswered points, and it fired up the defense, too.

"That's what teams are all about when you have individuals who can step up and inject enthusiasm into the group," defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. "Little did we know he had some fire in him."

Hearing the national anthem lit that fire in Beckham. "All of the emotions, all of the stress, the anxiety, the anger, everything I'd been dealing with, it just kind of hit me at that moment, and I shed some tears of joy," Beckham said. "You know, I go out and Eli throws it and I get my first catch. That relief, like, 'All right, now you're back to playing football.' "

Not a moment too soon.

New York Sports