CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Odell Beckham Jr. wants the pressure on him. He’s got it now.
The heat remains on the New York Giants receiver and quarterback Eli Manning after a crushing 33-31 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. The Giants (1-4) are again in last place in the NFC East heading into their Thursday night matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s a familiar position after last season's 3-13 finish.
The Giants lost on a 63-yard field with one second remaining on Sunday. It capped an eventful weekend that included Beckham addressing the team to clarify comments made earlier this week.
In an interview with ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Beckham said he “didn’t know” if Manning was the issue with the offense struggling. The two spoke over the weekend and Manning downplayed the incident after the loss.
“I haven’t heard anything,” he said after throwing two late touchdowns and two interceptions in the loss. “Odell and I have a great relationship. Our mindset will be everybody stay focused on beating Philadelphia.”
Beckham finished with eight catches for 131 yards and a 33-yard touchdown, his first score of the season. It ended a four-game drought. Beckham also threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Saquon Barkley in the second quarter.
Manning, meanwhile, threw a pair of interceptions and a pair of touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. He went 22-of-36 passing for 326 yards in an uneven performance that was capped by leading a two late scoring drives that put the Giants ahead with just over a minute remaining.
“He just kept fighting,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “He’s tough. He’s competitive. At one point we were ahead 31-30.”
It wasn’t enough. Beckham and Manning undoubtedly weren't alone with their uneven performances -- the Giants committed an unthinkable amount of unforced errors. But Beckham will be scrutinized after recently signing a $90-plus million contract and continuing to be outspoken. His comments will garner plenty of attention, even if he viewed the end result as a positive.
“I don’t regret anything,” Beckham said. “I don’t regret anything that I said. If it took that for us to come together as a team like we did [Sunday]. I can take that every single time.”
An animated Shurmur wanted to put it behind him after the game. That might be easier said than done unless all the Giants’ offensive woes are cured. There were at least some positive signs late in the game. The Giants scored 30 points for the first time since Tom Coughlin’s final game as head coach in the final Week of the 2015 season. They lost that game as well.
“All right, listen, I’m going to answer all the drama questions right now and I’m going to go back to what I said. I addressed it with Odell. I addressed it with our team,” Shurmur said. “I publicly declared that I didn’t agree with his comments and I asked anybody that was interested if they wanted clarification [to] go to Odell because he’s a big man.
"Now, I’m not going to give the public a pound of flesh on this, alright! That would make me small not strong. And these are the kind of things, in my opinion, when we have the locker room that we have that will help galvanize them because the locker room took care of it and that is all I’m saying on it. Finito. Done Let’s talk football, not drama.”
Beckham’s game began with a one-handed catch near the sideline on the Giants’ second offensive play of the game. It hit a rough patch after that.
Beckham dropped a fourth-and-3 pass from Manning with 50 seconds left in the first quarter. He said him and another receiver kind of ran their routes into each other. It was still a play Beckham has to make, especially given the extra bright spotlight shining in his direction on this day.
Then, forced to return punts because of the Giants’ ineffective return game, Beckham made a crucial mistake that cost them seven points. He tried to make a last-second block on the Carolina gunner at the Giants’ 2-yard line on a second-quarter punt. The ball bounced off his foot and, after Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple were unable to corral the muff, ended with the Panthers’ Colin Jones recovering the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
It was the kind of mistake a losing team makes and was a miscue the Giants couldn’t afford. It put them in an early 14-3 hole.
It looked like Beckham's TD grab might send the Giants in the winning direction. They took the lead with just over a minute remaining.
But these are the 2018 Giants. Not much seems to be going right for Beckham, Manning & Co. Until it does, they will likely remain the center of attention.