Trailing by seven with little time left, Chicago lined up Sunday for an onside kick — and recovered it.
The New York Giant with the best hands, receiver Odell Beckham, was on the hands team to recover. The ball bounced in front of him, where he approached it and appeared to briefly hesitate to recover it.
Instead, it ended up in the hands of Bears tight end/special teamer Daniel Brown. Without possession, Beckham was left to watch Chase Daniel lead the Bears down the field to score the game-tying touchdown — and deal with the criticism afterward.
“That’s fine,” Beckham said, per ESPN, after the Giants ended up winning in overtime, 30-27. “It was a great kick. 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. That’s the last thing you can 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.”
Beckham looked much like Panthers quarterback Cam Newton did in Super Bowl 50, when he too appeared to hesitate to dive on a loose ball in a crucial moment. Both avoided injury, but lost possession. The difference for the Giants on Sunday: They still managed to win.
“I never question O’s effort,” wide receiver Russell Shepard said, again via ESPN. “Never question his heart. He wants to win. He’s a big reason why we won. He gave us emotion. He gave us leadership. He said some things to us pregame and halftime that pushed us over the edge.”
Shepard, Beckham’s former teammate at LSU, has a point: The star caught three passes for 35 yards and a touchdown, and even threw a touchdown pass (to Shepard). The effort was there. Plus, sometimes a guy has to make a business decision to protect his most valuable commodity: his physical health.
Even while the tape might raise an eyebrow, in the big picture, this is all that matters: The Giants won and Beckham’s teammates defended him. He can thank his defensive teammates for keeping the Bears out of the end zone, and Beckham from the Monday morning newspaper covers.