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Odell Beckham Jr. needs to let it go when things do go his way

PITTSBURGH – Odell Beckham Jr. has to be the first player in NFL history to smile at an opponent’s touchdown in a loss, rip the day’s officiating crew, lobby for the league to pull those same referees from any future Giants games, receive 16 targets and still go on a Twitter rant on his way to the airport.

Sunday’s 24-14 loss to the Steelers at Heinz Field generated sufficient concern about whether the Giants (8-4) really are better than the bad football they often played during the preceding six-game win streak.

But when Beckham blew his top on referee Terry McAulay’s crew in the visitors’ locker room, this suddenly became about much more than one loss – and way more even than Beckham’s misplaced, smiling reaction to friend and Steeler Antonio Brown’s touchdown dance in the second quarter.

Beckham’s resentful comments about a group of officials that he feels has disrespected him personally, beginning with last season’s Josh Norman blow-up, tinged this defeat with the dark side of this team and its star – that these extreme highs and lows, mercurial emotions and deep disappointments are part of who they are; and that Beckham and the Giants never will be able to, as he said Sunday, “rise above it.”

It’s not that Beckham didn’t have a point about missed calls. He even was calm ranting against the refs. It’s just, he can’t let it go. He rarely can let anything go. He needs to stop talking and play.

He is this sorry offense’s only real weapon, with 10 catches for 100 yards on Sunday but no touchdowns and inexplicably just one target in the first half before a lopsided 15 passes from Eli Manning in the second. It’s as if the Giants offense is living on the same extremes as their up-and-down star wideout.

Beckham's the best player on the team but often becomes an unnecessary distraction.

Beckham’s the best player on the team but often becomes an unnecessary distraction.

(Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

This team’s margin for error is razor thin. Losing cool means losing games, and likewise the other way around, and that’s a precarious way to manage an emotional sport.

Beckham accused one judge of telling him to “get out (of) my face” after flagging him for offensive pass interference on the Giants’ second drive down the left sideline. Steelers defensive back Ross Cockrell had initiated contact, and the flag on Beckham was ridiculous, amateur-hour from an NFL official, a “horrible call” and “nonsense,” as he said. So was the official’s nasty response to Beckham’s inquiry.

“I went up and asked him what was going on, what was the flag, and he said, ‘Get out (of) my face,'” Beckham said. “The refs aren’t the reason we lost the game. The Giants are the reason we lost the game … (But) I don’t really think we should have this crew anymore when the Giants are playing with the past history and everything that’s going on … I’m pretty sure this is the same crew from the Panthers game, the (Washington) game, so just put two-and-two together. It shouldn’t be that hard for you.”

Indeed, Sunday’s entire eight-man officiating crew – minus McAulay, the referee – worked the Giants’ Week 3 home loss to Washington and Norman when Beckham first fought the sideline kicking net. And four of Sunday’s officials, including McAulay, were running the show in Week 15 of last season when Beckham earned the darkest side of his reputation and a one-game suspension for flipping out on that unprofessional loudmouth Norman, who was then playing DB for the Panthers.

To be honest, too, if I’m picking a side for or against Sunday’s officiating at Heinz Field, I’m siding with Beckham. Steelers safety Mike Mitchell’s cheap shot on Beckham, after he already had been tackled to the turf in the second quarter, sent the Giants receiver off-the-rails.

Beckham's rant on Twitter.

Beckham’s rant on Twitter.

He jumped up and was on his way to a total flip-out, rightfully so, until Giants right tackle and self-designated Beckham protector Bobby Hart physically grabbed his friend and lifted him out of the fray to protect him from himself, from the refs, from the Steelers, from it all.

“I’m trying to turn over a new leaf. I’m trying to just play football the way I love playing football, and it’s hard when it almost feels like a disrespect thing,” said Beckham, who stressed despite his frustration that the Steelers – not the officials – beat the Giants. “I’m trying to figure out what I did wrong so I don’t do it again and you’re gonna sit here and tell me get out of my face. I don’t really understand that. That’s not really how I was raised or anything like that.”

If that wasn’t a bad enough look, FOX’s cameras in the second quarter caught Beckham smiling as the Steelers’ Brown scored and danced in the end zone. Then postgame, Beckham really didn’t shy away from admitting pleasure in the moment despite the unusual optics.

“I didn’t admire the points going on the board, but I admire him,” Beckham said. “It’s not like I’m sitting there rooting for him against our team, like, ‘Oh man, tear it up.’ No, I don’t want us to lose, but at the end of the day I love Antonio, I love the way he plays, I love everything about him. So I do admire him when he does his thing. That’s the honest truth.”

The truth, as Beckham said in so many words, is that the Giants’ offense is threatening to derail this team’s season. Everything else is a distraction – a distraction the Giants do not need.

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