Odell Beckham Jr. seemed to relish the prime-time lights of “Monday Night Football,” which should come as no surprise.
But even by his own lofty standards, the Giants’ flashy receiver took full advantage of Monday night’s national showcase, in which the Giants emerged with a 21-20 victory over the Bengals.
That was most evident late in the first half, when he fashioned a spectacular spin move around Bengals cornerback Adam Jones that left him alone in the end zone, where he caught a 10-yard pass with 1:17 left.
Beckham then celebrated the Giants’ 14-10 lead with a touchdown dance that channeled Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
Where did that come from, given that he was born about 10 years after it came out?
“I don’t know,” he said, smiling. “It kind of happened. I think I saw a video the other day of Michael Jackson doing it, and it just happened.”
As for the touchdown play, he said, the team ran it in practice during the week and he dropped the ball in the end zone. “I made sure to let them know I’m going to catch it in the game; don’t take it out,” he said. “It came up and we connected on it.”
Jones and Beckham had spoken highly of one another in the week leading up to the game. Afterward, Beckham was asked if there was something about the matchup with the 10-year veteran that made the play effective.
“Anybody who was in that spot at the right time playing the coverage they were in, it’s a tough position he was in,” the receiver said. “They’re taught to drive on things, and as he drove, we spun right back behind him. It was a great call. Not really too much someone can do.”
Beckham concluded the first half with eight receptions for 79 yards. He finished with 10 catches — in 11 targets — and 97 yards and became the first player in NFL history to pass 3,500 career receiving yards in 36 games.
He also played defense on the Bengals’ attempted Hail Mary as time expired in the first half and helped break up the pass in the end zone.
Late in the third quarter, he got his hands on a high pass, and it bounced into the air, but he managed to grab it back. That drive ended with a go-ahead-for-good touchdown.
Beckham said he gained inspiration from watching Conor McGregor compete and win at UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night and later getting to meet him. It was Beckham’s first UFC experience.
“I went there to watch McGregor, just a guy who is very strong in his beliefs and sure enough, he backs it up every single time,” Beckham said. “I definitely got a lot of inspiration from going there, watching him win, double champ.”
Asked about the bright lights of a national game, Beckham indicated that the lights literally were brighter than he could recall them being at MetLife Stadium.
But he insisted the stage did not change the stakes. “If it was a Sunday game at 1 o’clock, he said, “it still was a game we needed to win.”
Neil Best | newsday.com | November 15, 2016