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Odell Beckham ineffective in his playoff debut

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In his first-ever playoff appearance, Odell Beckham was barely a blip on the radar.

The Giants star wideout notched just four catches for 28 yards off a team-leading 11 targets in Sunday's 38-13 wild-card loss to the Packers in Green Bay.

Drops were a central issue for Beckham, who logged just eight dropped balls over 107 catchable passes during the regular season. On Sunday, he botched three of seven catchable throws, an uncharacteristic tumble for one of the game's most electric athletes -- and one who has successfully made a cottage industry out of jaw-dropping, acrobatic grabs.

It's only fair to note that without Beckham, the Giants would be home watching this game from couches and plush love seats scattered around the Tri-State area. Playing beautifully down the stretch, he accounted for 33.9 percent of New York's receiving yards in 2016 -- the highest figure for any player league-wide -- while piling up 32.2 percent of Big Blue's receiving yards, fifth highest in the NFL.

On Sunday, though, Beckham never found his rhythm with Manning, who came out of the gate with newfound zip on his throws. The Giants quarterback laced the ball to Beckham on a third-down play in the opening quarter, only to see the receiver drop the pass to end New York's first drive.

On the team's second march, Manning unfurled a pass that slipped through Beckham's hands in the end zone as he dropped what would have been a 28-yard touchdown grab. The Giants went on to kick a field goal.

That would-be touchdown was a tall order -- it would have been a fantastic grab had he made it -- but context, in general, simply isn't enough when it comes to Beckham. Few will be quelled by "what ifs" from a player gifted with such a rare and special skill set.

"I'm not sure how many targets Odell had," Giants coach Ben McAdoo said. "I thought we had the opportunity to get him the ball a few times. Ball skills weren't great today. I thought Eli was fairly sharp throwing it. In the elements, you've got to handle the ball better."

More tedious than any mistakes from Beckham, of course, will be the endless and obvious storm of burning-hot takes and unhinged criticism he'll receive for having sailed around on a boat with his fellow receivers during the week. Without question, Beckham's iffy performance had more to do with Sunday's frigid temperatures at Lambeau Field than anything that happened in sun-splashed Miami during the team's day off.

"There was nothing that could connect seven days ago to today and how we came out and played and executed," Beckham told reporters. "There's just nothing in the world, that's not realistic. I think it did a great job at creating distractions for us. It's unfortunate. That's just the way this world is. There's just no way you could connect something that happened seven days ago to this game today."

Sunday painted the unfriendly portrait of a young star failing to deliver in a big spot. In sports, it happens all the time.

The great ones make up for days like this as their careers take bloom, and Beckham is truly great: He'll author new stories and heroics next autumn -- and for many years to come.

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