In terms of sheer entertainment, it’s too bad Charlotte can’t host Odell Beckham Jr. at least once every season.
Beckham’s last matchup with Carolina in 2015 produced a fight-every-other-series matchup with then-Panthers cornerback Josh Norman. This time Beckham’s performance in Carolina’s 33-31 thriller of a win over the New York Giants Sunday was less violent but similarly dramatic, as OBJ seemed to be involved in a big play every five minutes. Beckham even made news before the game, when some of his critical comments about his team had his coach, Pat Shurmur, telling the Giants: “I publicly declared that I didn’t agree with his comments and I asked anybody that was interested if they wanted clarification [to] go to Odell, because he’s a big man.”
The game’s ultimate headline came when Graham Gano hit a 63-yard field goal with one second left to save Carolina from what would have been a monumental fourth-quarter collapse. But OBJ certainly had his moments, too.
1. Beckham stretching behind him to catch the first pass thrown to him one-handed for a 13-yard gain.
2. Beckham making a terrible decision to try to block Carolina’s punt-coverage gunner D.J. Moore or else get out of the way of a punt, only to have the ball bounce off his left leg and touch two other Giants before rolling into the end zone, where Carolina’s Colin Jones recovered it for a touchdown.
3. Beckham taking a long lateral from Eli Manning, only to fire the ball 30 yards across the field to a streaking Saquon Barkley for a 57-yard touchdown.
4. Beckham dropping a fourth-down pass that would have resulted in a first down for New York.
5. Beckham dropping a third-quarter pass in the end zone — well-contested by Carolina cornerback James Bradberry — that would have resulted in a TD.
6. Beckham scoring on a 33-yard, fourth-quarter pass from Manning for his first TD of the season, outwrestling Bradberry for the ball.
7. After Gano’s 63-yard field goal with one second left to put Carolina back ahead, Beckham returned Gano’s kickoff from nine yards deep in the end zone and began a multi-lateral play that looked for a moment like it had a chance to go all the way. “What an amazing athlete that guy is,” Gano said. “I should have put some more oomph in that one.”
But a final lateral sailed out of bounds, and Carolina ended up with a thrilling victory.
Beckham, who had eight catches for 131 yards, also ended up with a hand in three of the game’s touchdowns: Two for the Giants and one for Carolina.
▪ Carolina quarterback Cam Newton added a play that will undoubtedly be shown on his post-retirement highlight film Sunday when he threw a pancake block on New York Giants linebacker Kareem Martin (a former Tar Heel) during a double reverse. Poor Martin — he finally got up, but he’ll have a hard time living that one down.
▪ The running play up the middle on third-and-1 with no timeouts and 30 seconds left to Christian McCaffrey has to be one of the worst play calls I’ve ever seen. Carolina was very fortunate Gano bailed them out after that brain cramp, which gained one yard and cost the Panthers 19 seconds.
▪ Can we get back Queen tribute singer Marc Martel for a game next season? He gave a fine halftime show. If you closed your eyes, it sounded just like Freddie Mercury out there.
▪ Great to see former Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman — now the GM for the Giants — in the press box Sunday. Diagnosed with aggressive lymphoma in June, Gettleman has undergone several rounds of chemotherapy and is now done with treatments and cancer-free, the GM said.
▪ One of the worst hits McCaffrey took all day, incidentally, came when Panthers offensive guard Trai Turner ran directly into him in the fourth quarter. Didn’t hurt him much, though, as McCaffrey scored his first TD of the season a couple of plays later on an 18-yard pass from Newton.
▪ New Panthers safety Eric Reid made a lot of headlines this past week and continued that Sunday when he became Carolina’s first player to ever kneel during the national anthem. Reid had a quiet game otherwise, while fellow safety Mike Adams made a lot of noise during the game with two interceptions of Manning.