For once, Odell Beckham Jr. did not appear to want the ball.
This was an onside kick that Daniel Brown recovered that enabled Chase “Effin” Daniel to march the Bears into position for a B.W. Webb interference penalty in the end zone that enabled running back Tarik Cohen to find Anthony Miller with the 1-yard trickeration TD pass as time expired to force an overtime that never should have been.
For the Giants, 30-27 survivors, it was a shame that Beckham was forced to defend himself for being a spectator at such a critical moment because he was the one who had fired up his team with a passionate, emotional halftime speech, he was the one who walked the talk with his 49-yard TD pass to Russell Shepard and 1-yard TD catch on fourth down, both in the third quarter.
Because if Beckham gets to the onside kick and dives on it and recovers it, game over.
“I was trying to run up there and get in the mix … just got to it late,” Beckham said.
Beckham dismissed a pair of follow-up questions on the onside kick before someone mentioned that he had come under fire on social media for a half-hearted effort.
“It was a great kick,” he began. “Sometimes somebody makes a better play than you do. I can dive in there, and still not get the ball. It was a very tough call.
“Nobody should ever question my effort or my heart.” He snickered at the very thought of it. “That’s the last thing you could do, you can question me as a person, as a man, whatever you want to do, but my heart and my effort can never be questioned ever. Thank you.”
Perhaps judgment is the better word. The kick did take a treacherous bounce that seemed to confound the rest of the hands team. The last thing Beckham wanted to do was fumble it. He should have taken that chance.
He could have lost them the game on a day when ultimately he won them the game.
“I addressed the team at halftime, and I told ’em, it’s just something that I had to get off my chest,” Beckham said. “I love these boys. Every time I put on a helmet whether it’s practice or a game, I’m gonna give it my all, and I feel like I owed them to give them more, to give them all of me and whatever that can entail.”
Beckham (two catches on eight targets in the first half) addressed the offense first and then the entire team. He spoke for virtually the entire intermission.
“It just was something in my heart,” he said. “In a way I kinda feel like I let ’em down. When I came into the building today, it was just a different feeling and I didn’t know how to shake it. … So as I’m speaking to ’em, it’s just flying out. It’s whatever thoughts are coming out. I feel like they took the message well, and we’re in this locker room with a good feeling.”
Asked what his message was, Beckham said: “Go out here and lay it all on the line, no matter what the situation is, no matter what play, no matter anything. Go out here and give it your all.”
It lit a fire under the Giants.
“You see the passion in his face when he speaks,” Saquon Barkley said.
You saw Barkley’s passion when he hurdled Adrian Amos on his way to a 17-carry, 82-yard second half when Pat Shurmur remembered that he was Saquon Barkley (125 rushing on 24 carries; 21 yards on three receptions).
Jamon Brown said Beckham’s pep talk inspired him.
“I think that sparked us,” Brown said.
Eli Manning had struggled mightily (7-for-17, 73 yards, 1 INT on a throw for Beckham) in the first half. But from the Bears’ 46 on the first possession of the third quarter, Manning pitched it to Beckham, running behind the line of scrimmage from left to right, and soon confronted rookie linebacker Roquan Smith directly in his way. Receiver Bennie Fowler was double-covered. Then Beckham spotted Russell Shepard all alone deep down the middle. Shepard’s assignment was helping with Khalil Mack. Until he decided the hell with that.
“I seen him down the middle of the field and I was like, ‘This can’t be real,’ ” Beckham said. “I was like, ‘I’m just gonna give him a chance.’ ”
The ball hung for what seemed like an eternity. Shepard, his back to the end zone, caught it and backpedaled into the end zone. “It looked like a punt,” Shepard said.
On the next series, a pair of Barkley runs from the 1 were stuffed and an ill-advised pass in the right flat for tight end Scott Simonson fell incomplete and made it fourth-and-1. Manning, under pressure, lofted one to where he knew Beckham would be, all alone, in the left corner of the end zone.
“It’s a lot of people crossing down at the goal line, it’s hard to cover,” Beckham said.
Then came the Bad News Giants: Manning getting sacked out of field-goal range up seven in the fourth quarter, no one able to cover Tariq Cohen out of the backfield, the onside kick, the Webb interference. Then came OT. The Giants won the coin toss.
Barkley rumbled 29 yards on first down, Aldrick Rosas booted the 44-yard field goal, and they ended the game when Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins batted away a bomb for Taylor Gabriel.