The Giants were down to their last chance, and anything less than a successful play would mean a fourth straight loss and more questions about whether this might turn into a lost season. Larry Donnell inexplicably couldn’t make it past the first-down marker on a third-down catch late in the fourth quarter, creating a fourth-and-1 scenario at the Giants’ 34 that ultimately would decide the outcome.
With 1:36 to play and the Giants trailing the Ravens 23-20, Eli Manning walked up to the line of scrimmage, surveyed the Ravens’ defense and signaled to Odell Beckham Jr. that he needed to change his pass route from the play that was called.
“You just try to get 1 yard, so you look at the defense a little bit — they were playing man-to-man, so there was an opportunity for one-on-one [coverage] with your best player,” Manning said.
The player he was referring to, of course, was Beckham, who was having one of his signature games and now had a chance to add an already transcendent performance. Beckham, lined up to the right of the formation, did as Manning told him and ran a slant pattern over the middle. Manning delivered the pass at the Giants’ 40, which was more than enough for the first down.
Beckham then turned it into the game-winning play, racing from right to left and sprinting past three defenders for a 66-yard touchdown. It was one of his biggest plays in a young career already filled with electric ones, but this one may have gone a long way toward saving the season.
Beckham finished with eight catches for 222 yards and two touchdowns to carry the Giants on his back for a 27-23 win in what turned out to be an electrifying finish. The Giants’ defense withstood one more drive from Joe Flacco, and the Giants stopped their losing streak at three games to get to 3-3. There’s still plenty of season left, to be sure, but another loss here would have dealt a serious blow.
With the Giants’ offense staggering during the losing streak and with questions about whether Manning was on the decline, it was the 23-year-old Beckham who lifted his team and his quarterback. He was as good as he’s been throughout his sometimes controversial two-plus seasons in the NFL, in part because he decided before last week’s game against the Packers to dispense with the nonsense and stop being baited into overreacting to opposing defenders.
“Sometimes you need bad to happen, and for me, I’ve always learned the hard way,” he said. “I’ve always had the really bad things happen, and then you’re able to bounce back from them. Going to Lambeau [Field in Green Bay], I said I’m just going to have fun. I’m going to go back to cherishing the moment.”
There was plenty to cherish on what turned into a career day for him, even if it didn’t start out like one.
Beckham lost a fumble on the Giants’ first play from scrimmage, a turnover that the Ravens converted into a 30-yard touchdown drive and a 10-0 first-quarter lead. He also suffered a hip pointer on a long pass in the second quarter and missed some time while being tended to in the locker room. But he was able to fight through the pain to make two of his most dynamic catches.
Bob Glauber | newsday.com | October 16, 2016