EAST RUTHERFORD – Admit it. Odell Beckham Jr. is the reason you're still watching the Giants.
The very thought of missing the next incredible moment the young receiver produces keeps you engaged even though this team's postseason dreams have been shattered almost from the start.
And it's the awesome potential for this offense with a healthy Victor Cruz working downfield in concert with the first-round phenomenon that provides hope for the future, regardless of who's coaching them.
Take Sunday, for instance.
As the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys were getting ready for their primetime showdown for first place in the NFC East, the Giants and Washington played for last place.
Amid the morass of mediocrity inside MetLife Stadium, Beckham caught 12 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns as part of a steady performance featuring flashes of brilliance.
He missed the first month of the season but already has more yards than any rookie in Giants' history, and he needs just 28 yards to top the 1,000-yard mark.
"I think you have to put him right in there," said quarterback Eli Manning about his place among the best receivers he's thrown to, including Cruz and Amani Toomer. "I don't want to get his head too big too early right now, but he's got a lot of skills and you hope that he's going to keep working, keep grinding and do the little things correctly."
There was the back shoulder toss Manning sent towards the front corner of the end zone late in the first quarter, with Beckham winning his battle with rookie cornerback Bashaud Breeland and coming down with the ball to give the Giants a 7-3 lead.
And the quick post-pattern in the third quarter where Manning delivered the ball in stride and Beckham split the defense for a 35-yard TD catch-and-run that gave the Giants the lead for good.
Finally, it was a six-yard scoring strike on the left side with just under five minutes to play that put the finishing touches on a 24-13 victory.
The win means nothing.
Beckham's heroics mean everything.
"It's just gotten to the point where even though he is such a good athlete, a lot of the stuff he does you're still taken back by it and you just kind of like look at each other and shake your head," safety Stevie Brown said.
"We're definitely going to have a one-two punch that a lot of teams are going to be afraid of see. What Odell is doing this year without Vic, and when Vic gets back the defenses won't be able to focus all their attention on Odell. It's definitely going to be exciting."
There's so much uncertainty swirling around the franchise, with coach Tom Coughlin and general manager Jerry Reese missing the playoffs for a third straight season. But fans are clinging to the thought of Cruz coming back strong from his knee injury.
"We have potential to be one of the best if not the best offense in the league," Beckham said.
The numbers say it all.
After three games spent slowly working into the offensive flow after a hamstring injury suffered early in training camp cost him two months, Beckham has 90 yards or better in his last seven games, including five over 100 yards.
"The young man is having outstanding success," Coughlin said. "We are getting the ball to him, he's doing very well with it. He's a very good football player. He has the ability to go the distance any time he gets it — we try to create a lot of situations (for him) but he does have the talent to exploit the defense in a lot of different ways."
Beckham might just save Coughlin's job single-handedly.
But Beckham's greatest feat of all is how he's managed to keep an otherwise unwatchable football team interesting.
By Steve Edelson | mycentraljersey.com | December 15, 2014