PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Odell Beckham Jr. is trying to turn over a new leaf. No more tantrums. No more treating a kicking net like a punching bag when things don’t go right.
And while the talented if enigmatic Giants wide receiver hardly sounded distraught following a 24-14 loss to the Steelers on Sunday, he didn’t exactly endorse the prospect of having referee Terry McAulay’s crew working another one of his team’s games anytime soon. Not after what Beckham described as an unsettling exchange with one official and a series of non-calls when he felt a flag was in order.
“You can’t sit there and rely on the refs, obviously,” Beckham said. “Obviously that’s not the case. You can’t sit here and rely on them if anybody watched the game today.”
Beckham insisted he isn’t pinning the end of New York’s six-game winning streak on the officiating. He made it a point to give credit to a Pittsburgh defense that held New York in check and kept him under wraps until the game was decided.
Still, he couldn’t help but wonder if there was something more personal at play from the officials. It was the same crew that worked New York’s game against Carolina last season in which Beckham and then-Panthers cornerback Josh Norman repeatedly drew flags for their confrontations.
“I don’t really think we should have this crew anymore when the Giants are playing with the past history and everything that’s gone on,” Beckham said.
Beckham finished with 10 receptions for 100 yards, but was held out of the end zone. He played in important role in the game’s first momentum swing when he was hit with an offensive pass interference penalty after getting tangled up with Pittsburgh’s Ross Cockrell. Instead of having the ball near midfield, the Giants were backed up to their 5.
Three plays later, tackle Ereck Flowers was called for holding in the end zone for a safety that gave the Steelers a 2-0 lead they never relinquished.
Beckham had a problem with the call in general. More troubling was his exchange with an unspecified official. Beckham said he approached the official to get some clarity on why a flag was thrown when things grew heated.
“I’m trying to figure out what I did wrong so I don’t do it again and you’re going to sit here and tell me, `Don’t get out of my face?”’ Beckham said. “I don’t really understand that. That’s not really how I was raised.
“Again, I don’t want anybody to sit here and say that I’m saying the refs are the reason we lost the game because that’s clearly not the reason we lost the game. … The Steelers, they’re a very good team and they beat us today.”
Beckham kept his composure when pressed. He hardly seemed concerned about any potential outcry from fans after cameras caught him smiling after good friend and Pittsburgh star wide receiver Antonio Brown made a spectacular touchdown grab in the back of the end zone in the second quarter that put the Steelers up 11-0. Beckham, who hung out with Brown on the eve of the game , likened the smile to simple admiration of Brown’s ability.
More pressing is finding a way to get New York’s offense back on track quickly with NFC East-leading Dallas looming next week.
“I don’t think anybody’s going to jump ship after one loss,” Beckham said. “We just won six. It’s not like it’s all over for us. If that was the case it would feel like that, and it doesn’t feel like that. We’ve got a very good chance of doing what we need to do. We’ve just got to handle the rest of the games.”
Avoiding the kind of miscues that popped up against the Steelers (7-5) would help.
New York (8-4) went 0 for 3 on fourth down, allowed Pittsburgh to hold the ball for nearly 34 minutes, and managed just 234 yards of total offense, 52 coming on a garbage-time drive.
“I think everything will jell and it will all click at some point,” Beckham said. “It just needs to be soon.”