EAST RUTHERFORD — In a league surprisingly bereft of A-list rivalries, Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and then-Carolina corner Josh Norman provided the fieriest matchup of 2015 when they faced off last year.
For their parts, both parties are vowing to keep their focus on the game this week—there is a game being played, after all—as Norman's Redskins look for their first win while the Giants seek to maintain their spot atop the NFC East. But, as another fighter famously said, "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."
OBJ-Norman II is officially over. And the winner is ... Beckham (despite his team's tough loss.) We break the fierce battle down by quarter:
-The Giants open the fourth quarter with a completion to Shepard over the middle. Norman laid out the receiver and was given a personal foul penalty as a result, tacking 15 yards onto a 12-yard-gain.
-On the same drive, Beckham hauled in a catch between Norman and David Bruton Jr., tapping Bruton on the helmet on the way back to the line of scrimmage afterwards. Manning looked OBJ's way again on the following play. Beckham caught the short pass and broke away from Norman with a stiff-arm and a spin move. New York's gains on the play were partially erased by a personal foul penalty by center Weston Richburg, who was ejected as a result of the new "Odell Beckham rule" (he had an earlier personal foul penalty in the game). Still, the play earned Beckham enough yards to become the fastest receiver to accrue 3,000 career yards.
-Norman is called for defensive holding on Beckham during the next play, despite his pleas to officials. Beckham responds by waving his hands to pump up the crowd. After all of that though, the drive ends with a Quinton Dunbar interception in the end zone, leaving Beckham none too happy.
-Beckham sparks another Giants drive with back-to-back receptions to the tune of 26 yards total, giving him his 16th career 100-yard day. The drive ends after Beckham comes up short on a third-down comeback and a field goal puts New York up, 27-26.
-With 1:24 to play, Beckham is called for interfering, setting New York back 10 yards. A Manning INT ultimately ends the Giants last push.
-Beckham finishes with 7 catches for 121 yards, but it's not enough as Washington wins, 29-27.
-Thanks to a fake punt pass by Washington, New York had the ball for less than five minutes in the third quarter. Beckham's only target came on the first play of the half, though he was lined up in the slot (away from Norman) and the catch was called back for an illegal formation penalty.
Winner: Norman (barely)
-Beckham gets his first catch to open the second quarter, beating Norman to the corner for 26 yards. After the play, Norman and safety Will Blackmon share a look of consternation while Beckham appears slightly gimpy. He seemed to get his left foot stuck in the turf.
-Beckham notches catch No. 2 after separating from Norman and Co. on a slant route. He goes for 18 yards before DeAngelo Hall brings him down. Hall sprains his right knee in the process, though, a particularly tough loss given the Redskins have already lost starting corner Bashaud Breeland to an ankle injury. While Hall is on the ground, Beckham (and Victor Cruz) walk over with their helmets off to check on the veteran safety.
-New York is driving with under two minutes to play when Blackmon forces a fumble. Norman walks to the sideline triumphantly as the offense takes over, arms spread wide, before hugging Blackmon.
Two catches for 44 yards on four targets for Beckham at half. The Giants enter halftime up, 21-16, after Cousins is sacked in the red zone with no time left on the clock.
-On the first play from scrimmage, Norman lines up against Sterling Shepard, not Odell Beckham Jr., but switches to Beckham when Shepard goes in motion. None of it matters as the Giants go with a halfback dive for two yards.
-On second down, Norman follows Beckham all the way across the formation nbsp;presnap but sits down in a zone coverage. He's there when Larry Donnell catches a short out and goes hard for a strip. The tackle earns some words from Giants guard Justin Pugh and a bunch of boos from the packed MetLife Stadium.
-Following a Washington special teams turnover, New York scores on a run play. On the weak side, Norman ends up lifting Beckham off the ground and towards a referee before letting him go and sticking his hands in the air.
-With the Giants driving again, motion leaves Norman and Beckham facing off. This time, Manning throws to Beckham on a skinny post, only for Norman to dive in front and get his hands on the ball. But he cannot complete the interception, showing his frustration before lining up for the following play. After New York scored (Manning to Shepard along the seam), Norman walks off the field with his head down.
Last year, Norman held Beckham catchless in the first half for the first time in the receiver's career. He's done the same so far today, but his team's inability to capitalize on offense is the bigger concern, as New York leads its visitors, 14-6.