Clutch Performers

Odell Beckham's efforts help keep Giants' playoff hopes alive

The Arizona Cardinals' Dwight Freeney, Oakland Raiders' Khalil Mack, Philadelphia Eagles' Ed Reynolds, Kansas City Chiefs' Dee Ford and New York Giants' Odell Beckham each had the strength to come through during a key moment and contribute to wins during Week 14.

Thanks to those strong performances, each player is up for Castrol EDGE Clutch Performer of the Week honors. This is a deeper look at the significance of those conquests.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants

Strong stats to consider:
» In the 31-24 win over the Miami Dolphins, Beckham set a record for the most receptions in a player's first two NFL seasons (176 catches ... his college teammate -- Jarvis Landry -- is just three receptions behind him).
» Beckham has 100-plus yards receiving in six consecutive games. That is the longest active streak in the NFL and the first time a Giants player has accomplished that in a single season.
» Through his first 24 career games, Beckham has the most receiving yards of any player in NFL history. Beckham's 2,625 yards tops the 2,468 yards posted by Charley Hennigan of the Houston Oilers in 1960-61.

Power of the moment: Once again, Beckham used a primetime showcase to put his tremendous talents on display. While Beckham set some sensational individual standards, his play kept the Giants in position to win the NFC East. There's a three-way tie atop the division at the moment, featuring the Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins (the Redskins get the tiebreaker edge at the moment due to head-to-head win percentage). However, the Giants' road to the postseason won't be easy ... the team's next opponent is the 13-0 Carolina Panthers. Expect the matchup of Beckham and the Panthers' top cover corner, Josh Norman, to be a must-watch event.

Dwight Freeney, Arizona Cardinals

Strong stats to consider:
» In their 23-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday Night Football, the Cardinals collected their seventh consecutive win. This is the first seven-game win streak for the team since 1974 when it won the first seven games of the season, finished the year 10-4 and lost to the Super Bowl-bound Vikings in the divisional playoffs.
» Freeney leads the Cardinals with four sacks. Freeney was signed by the team on Oct. 13, and did not play until Week 6. Freeney's 115.5 sacks are the fourth-most among active players behind Jared Allen (136), DeMarcus Ware (133.5) and Julius Peppers (132.5).

Power of the moment: Freeney's play helped the Cardinals make a little bit of franchise history (and by "little bit" we mean "pretty significant"). The Cardinals clinched a playoff berth with the victory, and that means Arizona has clinched back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since 2008-09. That wasn't all that long ago. The Cardinals also got their 11th win of the season, matching the most in team history (the franchise also had 11 wins in 2014, 1975, 1948 and 1925). The Cardinals also are closing in on the first first-round playoff bye in team history.

Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders

Strong stats to consider:
» With Sunday's 15-12 win coupled with a 16-10 loss in Week 5, this is the first time in team history that the Raiders' defense didn't allow the Broncos' offense to score a touchdown in both games of the season series. The Broncos' only touchdown in Week 5 came on a pick six.
» The Raiders' win snapped an eight-game losing streak against the Broncos, a skid that started in Week 1 of the 2011 season.

Power of the moment: Mack nearly single-handedly delivered victory for the Raiders. Mack thoroughly dominated Denver, registering five sacks, five tackles for loss, seven quarterback hits and a forced fumble that led to a safety. That's almost a season's worth of production in one afternoon of carnage on the gridiron. Mack tied Howie Long for the most sacks in a single game (Long accomplished his mark in 1983 against the Washington Redskins). Mack now has 14 sacks on the season, and has three games to topple Derrick Burgess' franchise record of 16 set in 2005.

Ed Reynolds, Philadelphia Eagles

Strong stats to consider:
» With the 23-20 win over the Buffalo Bills, the Eagles have now won the last four games in which they were tied with an opponent entering the fourth quarter.
» The Eagles have won five of their last six games in which quarterback Sam Bradford started and finished this season.

Power of the moment: The Eagles have won two consecutive games after a horrific showing on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit, and played themselves into position to win the division. Reynolds' first career interception assured that the Eagles would remain tied atop the NFC East (the Redskins earn the edge for the moment due to the head-to-head division tiebreaker).

Dee Ford, Kansas City Chiefs

Strong stats to consider:
» The 10-3 win over the San Diego Chargers continues a remarkable run for the Chiefs' defense. In the last nine games, the Chiefs are allowing just 13.1 points per game. In the team's first four games, it allowed 31.3 points a game.
» The Chiefs allowed 44 yards rushing to the Chargers, which was the fewest rushing yards allowed by Kansas City since Week 2 of the 2013 season.

Power of the moment: Ford's big play helped highlight the Chiefs' amazing turnaround season. The Chiefs have won seven consecutive games after losing five straight games. Kansas City is looking to become the second team in NFL history to win seven-plus consecutive games immediately following a losing streak of five or more games (joining the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals). Those 1970 Bengals made the playoffs after a horrendous 1-6 start, and the 2015 Chiefs would like to join them as only the second team in NFL history to start a season 1-5 and make the playoffs.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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