EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The matchup everyone was looking forward to seeing this NFL Sunday was the one between New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman. Throughout the first half, it seemed clear than Norman was taking up significant space in Beckham's head.
Beckham beat Norman deep on the Giants' first possession, but Eli Manning's pass bounced off Beckham's normally reliable hands and fell incomplete. After that, Beckham engaged in multiple postplay dust-ups with Norman and other Panthers players, though by halftime he'd been penalized only once.
That penalty was for unnecessary roughness after he gave Norman a shot with a forearm well away from a run play. But the penalty cost the Giants only 2 yards, as they had the ball on their own 4-yard line at the time and could only be assessed half the distance to the goal line.
Carolina cornerback Cortland Finnegan was assessed a personal foul earlier in the half when he retaliated after Beckham appeared to punch him in the head on another run play.
Beckham, who spoke often during the summer about the importance of keeping his cool on the field and not letting the opponent take advantage of his emotional nature, has done a good job of that for most of the season. But something about this matchup -- be it the early drop or whatever Norman has been giving him grief about every time they're face-to-face -- clearly got under his skin.
Norman isn't following Beckham when the Giants move Beckham into the slot, as they've done several times. But the Giants went through the entire first half without being able to get Beckham going. At halftime, he had no catches on two targets and the Giants trailed the unbeaten Panthers 21-7.