EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Sunday's highly anticipated matchup between Washington Redskins corner Josh Norman and New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. proceeded mostly without fireworks -- at least the sort that occurred last year and left many wondering what would happen in their second meeting.
Norman and Beckham behaved and let their play speak for them. Beckham finished with seven catches for 121 yards, but the Redskins pulled out a 29-27 win.
Norman covered Beckham one-on-one for the entire first half except for two plays when Beckham was aligned in the slot. There was no shoving, no punching and no extracurricular activity. One time, Norman lifted Beckham off the ground at the end of a play in the end zone, but nothing happened thereafter.
"Just an awesome day, just straight awesome day," Norman said. "Like from the beginning when the refs came over and talked to us, about nothing and towards the end when I was celebrating with my teammates victoriously -- can't ask for anything better than that. All this stuff in between was the show. Gosh, man, I'm gonna be on this high for a while. It feels good, man."
That's not how Beckham felt. He used the phrase, "I don't remember" in response to five questions in his postgame news conference. And, he said, he doesn’t have an issue with Norman, saying, “It’s been something that’s been made up by all of this in a sense. All I care for is football and I’m sure it’s the same for him.
“We’re two fierce competitors. That’s all it is. We love football. We feel this has turned into something that is not football.”
Beckham said he didn’t remember any words being exchanged between the two during the game.
“I just remember going out and playing our game,” Beckham said. “It just so happened we came out with the loss today.”
Last season, when Norman played for the Carolina Panthers, there were many times when the players shoved one another hard at the end of plays or engaged in hard shoving on run plays when Beckham was blocking. Their matchup got out of hand and became a dominant topic once Norman signed with Washington in April, knowing the two would meet twice this season. Both have tried to distance themselves from what happened last season, without much success.
Beckham only caught two passes for 44 yards in the first half, both coming in Norman’s zone. In both cases, Norman had safety help over the top, but Beckham was able to shake him free underneath. On an 18-yard reception, Beckham broke a Norman tackle attempt for an additional 9 yards.
But the first time Giants quarterback Eli Manning targeted Beckham, the Redskins’ corner nearly made a diving interception. Beckham got Norman turned around slightly, but Norman recovered enough to lunge in front and get his hands on the ball, though it wasn’t enough to secure the pick.
There were times in the first half when Norman wouldn’t initially align over Beckham, but pre-snap motion left the two engaged in the same area. Norman was not always in man coverage vs. Beckham.
Beckham also caught his 200th career pass in just his 30th career game, the fewest games needed to reach that number, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
But Beckham wasn’t able to celebrate that feat. Norman was able to enjoy his first win as a Redskin.
“He makes plays, I made my plays and we got a team win, that’s all it was,” Norman said. “I’ve been hearing chatter here, I’ve been hearing chatter there and the New York Giants’ defense talking, ‘We don’t get any respect, we don’t get any show, everybody’s talking about this Josh and Odell matchup.’ But they had their chance and our offense and special teams did their job with them.”