Even more than any team-vs.-team matchup, the showdown we most looked forward to in Week 3 was Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Josh Norman. The New York Giants wide receiver and Washington cornerback faced each other for the first time since their notorious meeting last season when the two fought on the field in Week 15.
Beckham and Norman traded barbs during the offseason before and after Norman signed with Washington, the Giants’ division rival. They played nice during the week leading up to the first of two meetings during the 2016 season.
Early in the game, however, the two players — both one of the best players at their respective positions in the world — teased what was to be a beautiful competitive dance.
Norman won the first battle of the game, breaking on a ball that Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw a little late and behind Beckham for an almost interception.
Beckham had to wait until the Giants’ next possession to make his first catch of the game, but it came on a sharp route that left Norman trailing several feet behind.
Norman largely played over Beckham throughout the first half, unlike when Washington played Pittsburgh and Dallas and made Norman cover a side of the field rather than the teams’ No. 1 receivers. At halftime, Beckham had two catches for 44 yards, and the battle was pretty much a stalemate.
Josh Norman has lined up across Odell Beckham Jr. on 30 of Giants' 34 plays through halftime. Beckham: 2 catches on 4 targets on those plays pic.twitter.com/6goF5ECitP— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 25, 2016
The third quarter was oddly quiet between the two rivals. Turns out it was just a bit of quiet before the storm. In the fourth quarter, the fireworks began. First, Beckham made a gorgeous one-handed catch in front of Norman ...
Then left the corner on the turf with a vicious spin move one play later.
The drive ended with zero points when Eli Manning threw a goal line interception, however, negating all of Beckham’s hard work. Beckham was frustrated afterwards. Manning had to calm him down along the sideline after the wideout vented his anger on a kicking net.
Despite his reaction to the drive, Beckham had been having a great game, with seven receptions for 121 yards with five minutes left, and almost all of his production coming against Norman.
Josh Norman lined up across Odell Beckham Jr. on 53 of Giants' 61 offensive plays. On those plays, Beckham had 6 rec for 107 yards on 9 tgts pic.twitter.com/GtEud3Rbg6— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 25, 2016
It was an incredibly entertaining game. When Washington took a 29-27 lead with under two minutes remaining, there had been five lead changes during the second half. The Giants got the ball back with 1:51 remaining, and Manning found himself in the familiar position of beginning a potential game-winning drive.
But after so much back-and-forth, the Giants sputtered. Beckham committed an offensive pass interference penalty that negated a 7-yard gain on the second play of the drive. Three plays later, Manning threw an interception on a pass intended for running back Shane Vereen, sealing Washington’s first win of the season.
By the tape, Beckham edged out Norman in what was an incredible individual battle. But Norman got the win, and after the game that’s likely what he will bring up if there is any more talking. Round 2 of Beckham v. Norman could be even more fun when the two of them meet again on New Year’s Day in Week 17.
Better luck next time, Odell.