NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Tuesday, December 15, 2015, 2:04 AM
MIAMI — So the Giants can close out a game after all.
And not even a stomach virus can stop Odell Beckham Jr.
The three game-losing streak is no more.
On Monday night at Sun Life Stadium, behind a cramping and ill Beckham, the Giants won the game they absolutely had to have, out-executing the Miami Dolphins in the fourth quarter to seal a 31-24 victory.
It was their first win in more than a month, enough to push them back into a three-way tie with Washington (6-7) and Philadelphia (6-7) atop the awful NFC East, and erase the specter of Damontre Moore’s stunning release after a fight last week. And it came on the shoulders of Beckham, who shook off halftime cramps and a stomach “bug” that he said plagued him throughout last week, to catch two TDs — the game’s final two scores — and eviscerate the Dolphins secondary for 166 receiving yards.
“I was sick all week. Leading up to the game, (I) tried to stay hydrated on fluids,” Beckham said. “I caught a stomach virus or a bug or something, and then allergies kept up on me throughout the week. Once we get back on the plane, I don’t know exactly how I’ll feel.”
Odell Beckham (l.) celebrates with Shane Vereen after the dynamic receiver’s long touchdown as the Giants get a much-needed win in Miami Monday night.
He should feel good after this one, after doing exactly what the Giants needed. It was Beckham who needed two halftime IVs and missesd the first possession of the third quarter but came back to account for the Giants’ tying and winning touchdowns.
And it was Beckham who gave the Giants the play they’d needed for weeks, finally sealing a game just after the two-minute warning, after the Dolphins had burned two timeouts desperately trying to halt a Giants drive that started with 4:38 to go and Big Blue holding a seven-point lead.
This wasn’t a spectacular play; it was a five-yard catch on third down near midfield, a diving stab that kept the clock running, allowing Eli Manning to wrap up his own spectacular game (337 yards, four TD passes, four total incompletions) by kneeling twice to drain the clock dry.
“We had the opportunity to take advantage, let’s not put it into anybody’s hands,” Beckham said. “We have it here, our own destiny.”
Beckham makes this ridiculous TD catch and somehow manages to stay in bounds.
The lead was all because of Beckham in the first place. With 11:28 to play, he’d gotten loose over the middle on first-and-10 from his own 16, caught a pass near his 45, and bolted to the end zone, an 84-yard touchdown that gave the Giants the 31-24 lead that they’d never relinquish.
And with 5:01 left in the third, it was Beckham who tied the game and shifted momentum to the Giants, when he caught a six-yard score from Manning, just barely getting both toes in-bounds, a play that was initially ruled incomplete. But Beckham insisted on a review, said he’d “absolutely” scored, and coach Tom Coughlin eventually trusted his star — and was rewarded with the game-tying TD.
“I knew it was a touchdown,” Beckham said, “and I didn’t want to let the opportunity pass.”
And the Giants didn’t let this opportunity pass, despite their usual flood of mistakes. Oh, this was as imperfect as most Giants games this year, especially early on, as the Dolphins built a 17-10 lead behind two Lamar Miller TD runs.
The second run in particular made the Giants look silly, a 38-yard scamper with 10:10 left in the second quarter, when Miller froze Jason Pierre-Paul and Jonathan Casillas with a step right then dash left past safety Landon Collins for the score.
Eli Manning has one of the most efficient games of his career when the Giants need it most. He completes 27 of 31 passes and throws four TDs and no INTs against the Dolphins.
But the Giants didn’t unravel, hanging around and climbing back into this game behind a sizzling Manning (27-for-31, 337 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs), who capped a dynamic four-play, 80-yard game-tying drive with a five-yard scoring strike to tight end Will Tye just 44 seconds before halftime.
Days after Manning gave players a speech about finding a way to close out games, he led an offense that was as balanced as it had been in weeks, rolling up 425 yards, getting a six-yard TD from embattled receiver Rueben Randle and drawing a season-high 81 rushing yards from Rashad Jennings.
“I just felt like guys were getting open quickly,” Manning said. “We kind of got everybody going. We got everybody in the mix.”
And because of that, they’re still in the mix for that NFC East title.
“The rest of them are playoff games to us,” said Beckham. “We’ve been on a losing streak and we need to snap it. I think we did a good job of connecting on all cylinders tonight.”
Beckham was the cylinder that mattered most.