Monday, December 21, 2015

Beckham's antics overshadow Giants late rally in loss


Were it not for a poor effort for three quarters chuck full of mistakes, missed opportunities 
 and Odell Beckham Jr. making out like the biggest thug in the NFL, the Giants could have pulled out the upset against the Carolina Panthers. 

It wasn't so much that Big Blue ran out of time during their improbable 28-point comeback from a 35-7 deficit, as it was the feeling of what could have been. With a loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Giants playoff fates are virtually over, considering they have to win their final two games and hope that Washington loses out.

A great comeback in the fourth quarter can't erase that fact. And that great comeback can't erase the fact that the Giants looked ill-prepared once again, and looked like a team that didn't care that its head coach is likely to get fired after this nightmare of a season ends.

However, the story of the day is not going to be how the Giants' playoff hopes may have gone down in flames. The story of this day has everything to do with Odell Beckham Jr. and not for a good reason either.

Beckham displayed the maturity of a screaming 5-year-old child who didn't get the teddy bear he wanted for Christmas, and will let mommy know he's not happy about it. Right from he onset when Beckham beat Josh Norman down the sideline and dropped an easy touchdown that would have made it 7-0 Giants, it was not going to be a good day for the second year pro.

From that point forward, everyone's attention went directly at the battle between Beckham and Norman as the two of them were punching, pushing, shoving and slapping each other like it was a boxing match. In fact the hostility got so bad that it was clear that Beckham was starting most of the altercations. At one point with the Giants desperately trying to get back into the game on an early third quarter drive, Beckham was called for two unnecessary roughness penalties, including one in which he sent himself head first into Norman like a heat-seeking missile.

Beckham was not ejected. In fact one of the penalties was off-setting on both undisciplined players for fighting. However the message sent by the League's officials, as well as the coaches on both teams was not a good one: "Boys will be Boys." What we got was the NFL's worst nightmare, an equivalent of WWE wrestling that has no business in the NFL.

While Beckham can not be lumped with all of the blame in this incident, since Norman certainly was doing enough pushing and shoving on his own, as well as chirping, Beckham was the main antagonist. Not only did he go after Norman, but he also went after Cortland Finnegan on a number of occasions as well.

Beckham no doubt will be discipline by the league with a fine, but that is not enough. His antics on Sunday were out of pure selfishness. He was frustrated that he had zero catches in the first half and wanted to take it out on somebody. This is a spoiled brat, who has been pumped up as one of the League's best receiver and he is believing his own press. Blame the media for the Beckham star, as they highlight every one handed catch he makes in warm-ups. Too bad he can't do that when it matters, like in the game.

If the NFL and/or the Giants want to really send a message to Beckham, they should suspend him for the last two games of the season. The Giants are going nowhere anyway. Maybe a timeout in the corner is something this guy needs.

Sadly this story took away from a tremendous football game. The Panthers had dominated the Giants for three quarters, before New York quickly made a second half surge. In the third quarter, Eli Manning's touchdown to Will Tye that made it 35-14 slowly got the ball rolling; however it was Rashad Jennings' 38-yard burst to pay-dirt that really that put the Giants back in it with 13:24 to go in regulation.

Cam Newton responded by driving the Panthers 62-yards on nine plays to the Giants 16, before having to settle for a field goal attempt. Fortunately for Big Blue, their late game heroics were not over yet. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie blocked the field goal and the Giants fell on it at mid field.

It looked like the Giants were in business until Manning stumbled out of the pocket and threw an ill-advised pass into the end zone that was intercepted by veteran Charles Tillman. Still the fates just were not with the Panthers. Carolina turned the football back over to the Giants on a bobbled quarterback-to-running back exchange, and New York was giving another chance, this time at the Panthers 14. Three plays later Manning found Shane Vereen for six-points, cutting the deficit to a single touchdown.

With momentum clearly on the Giants side,  New York wasted little time in tying the game, and Beckham did his best to make up for a horrible afternoon. He caught a 40-yard bomb from Manning to get the Giants into field goal range. Then on a critical 4th and five at the Panthers 14, Manning found Beckham again, this time in the end zone for the touchdown. Beckham then walked over Norman in celebration of the score.

Give the Panthers credit. They showed why they are the best team in the NFL by withstanding the Giants surge by finishing off the game with an impressive eight play drive that ate the final 1:46 of the game. Newton's best pass of the day probably came on this drive when he found Greg Olsen for 16 yards to move the ball past mid-field. Then on a critical second and ten at the Giants' 35, Newton scrambled out of the pocket, and on a bad knee, picked up 10 yards to get the field goal team closer. Carolina won it at the buzzer on a Graham Gano field goal.

While most times a comeback like this would salvage a little humility for the Giants, it still doesn't mask what was an ugly day at the Meadowlands. With Tom Coughlin's job security at so much risk, the Giants didn't do enough to win this game when the could have. The comeback accomplished nothing. The Beckham issue is a deep one, one that ultimately speaks to the amount of control Coughlin actually has on this team.

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