EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The much-celebrated and ballyhooed rematch between New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman turned out to have all the intrigue of Mike Tyson against “Hurricane” Peter McNeeley. Beckham produced several dazzling plays en route to another big day in the Giants 29-27 loss to their divisional rival.
Beckham, despite being held out of the end zone, had 11 catches for 128 yards. It was the sixteenth time in his NFL career that he has topped 100 receiving yards in a game. He also became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 3,000 receiving yards.
After a week of buildup centering on his on-the-field altercations with Norman last year when the cornerback was a member of the Carolina Panthers, the matchup produced little in the way of drama. Outside of a takedown in the first half where Norman lifted up Beckham then tossed him to the ground, there was no inkling of any type of bad blood between the two players.
And nothing close to what happened last season where it literally came to blows between the two on the field at MetLife Stadium. To both their credit, neither player seemed like they wanted a repeat of their past altercation which received extended press coverage last year.
Beckham was one of the first players on the field for warmups, running routes while the punters and kickers were the only ones on the field. He kept his distance from Norman during warmups, this despite seeming extra amped for the game.
The game officials spoke with both players separately before the game, presumably to underscore the attention this Beckham-Norman matchup would receive from the officiating crew. It was a zero tolerance message from the game officials.
“They implemented a new rule this year. It’s basically the Odell Beckham Jr. rule. I had three personal fouls last year so they said if you come out and get one personal foul and another one for the same thing,” Beckham said after the game. “Today, they came up before the game and said, ‘If you do anything, we’re throwing you out of the game.’ That was before the game. There was, ‘no, you get a warning.’ There was not any of that. You just have to be on your best behavior. Unfortunately, that’s what it’s come to. It’s not really football anymore as much as it is all the other things that play into it.”
His teammates noticed and appreciated his change in demeanor from last year’s game against Carolina where he was seemingly playing out of control.
“I think he was great. I think he understood the point of emphasis of this game,” Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz said after the game. “I think he understood the heightened attention of this game that he individually was going to get and I think he handled the pressure well.”
Beckham’s reception and receiving yardage total was the most of any player on either team.
After the game, Beckham and Norman met at the middle of the field and shared what appeared to be a cordial moment.
“We’re just two fierce competitors. That’s all it is. We love football,” Beckham said. “We feel like this has turned into something that is not football. Honestly, I know that all I care for is football.”