EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. played a little more than a game-and-a-half together before Cruz's season ended when he tore his patellar tendon at Philadelphia on Oct. 12. Since then, Cruz has been diligently rehabbing his knee, while Beckham has become one of the sensations of the 2014 NFL season – much like Cruz was in 2011.
Now the Giants and their fans are excited about the prospect of Cruz and Beckham teaming up to form one of the league's most dynamic duos in 2015.
"That would be a good idea," coach Tom Coughlin said.
The breakout seasons of Cruz and Beckham share some similarities, but also have their differences.
Cruz was an undrafted free agent, while Beckham was the 12th overall selection of the 2014 NFL Draft. Cruz was not a rookie in 2011; he had played in three games – and did not catch a pass - the previous year. Beckham missed the first four games of his debut season, but has since been the NFL's most productive and exciting receiver.
Beckham has excited his teammates, impressed his coaches and captivated and energized the fans, just as Cruz did three years ago.
In 2011, Cruz caught 82 passes for a Giants-record 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns. With two games to play, Beckham has 71 receptions 972 yards and nine scores.
Cruz helped the Giants win a Super Bowl in his first big season. Beckham's heroics will not be enough to lift the Giants into the playoffs.
Cruz was just as good in 2012, when he played in the Pro Bowl after finishing with 86 receptions for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns. He caught 73 passes last season before a knee injury sidelined him for the final two games. Presumably, Beckham will be an improved player as an NFL sophomore.
Beckham has 273 receiving yards in the last two games, the highest two-game total by a Giant since Cruz had three two-game stretches with more yards than that in 2011. The last of those were in the final two games, when he totaled 342 yards (164 at the Jets, 178 vs Dallas).
Beckham has four touchdown receptions in the last two games, the first Giant to do that since…Cruz, on Sept. 30 and Oct. 7, 2012, when he had one and three, respectively, at Philadelphia and vs. Cleveland.
- Beckham also has at least six catches in each of the last four games. The last Giant to do that was, of course, Cruz, from Sept. 30-Oct. 21, 2012.
- Beckham's five 100-yard games this season match Cruz's 2012 total; Cruz had seven such games in 2011.
- But Beckham has also accomplished feats Cruz has not approached. Beckham had 23 combined receptions vs. Tennessee and Washington, the highest two-game total in Giants history. The previous record belonged to Tiki Barber, who had 21 catches (eight vs. Minnesota on Dec. 26, 1999 and a team-record 13 at Dallas on Jan. 2, 2000).
- In the Giants' 24-13 victory Sunday over Washington, Beckham became both the first Giant and the first NFL rookie with at least 12 catches, 140 receiving yards and three touchdown catches in a game. The last NFL player to match and/or exceed those numbers was Kansas City's Dwayne Bowe, who had 13 catches, 170 yards and three scores in a victory at Seattle on Nov. 28, 2010.
These 5 players stood out in the Giants win over Washington
Beckham has three games this season in which he caught at least 10 passes and gained at least 130 yards. No other rookie in NFL history has even two such games. Only five players have had 10 or more receptions in two games during their rookie seasons, and two of them are Giants. In addition to Beckham, they are LaDainian Tomlinson (2001), Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey (2002), Anquan Boldin (2003) and Marques Colston (2006).
- Beckham became the first rookie with three touchdown catches in a game since Detroit tight end Joseph Fauria had three at Cleveland on Oct. 13, 2013.
- Over the past seven games, Beckham has 61 catches for 866 yards and six touchdowns. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, his 61 catches are the most in history by a rookie in a seven-game span and his 866 receiving yards are the second-most by a rookie over a seven-game span (920 yards by Houston's Bill Groman in 1960).
- Beckham has at least 90 receiving yards in each of the last seven games. That is the longest such streak ever by both a Giants player and an NFL rookie. Beckham is the second NFL player with a seven-game streak this season; Denver's Demaryius Thomas did it from Oct. 5-Nov. 16 (he actually had at least 103 yards in each of the seven games). The NFL record of nine consecutive 90-yard games was set by Hall of Famer Michael Irvin with Dallas in 1995, when he set a record with 11 100-yard games (tied by Detroit's Calvin Johnson in 2012).
View photos from Odell Beckham Jr.'s record setting day vs. Washington
Beckham has three games this season in which he caught at least 10 passes. He is the first rookie in history to do that. Beckham is the fourth NFL receiver with at least three 10-catch games this season, joining Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown (4), Atlanta's Julio Jones (3) and Thomas (3).
- After his big game on Sunday, Beckham is tied for the lead among all NFL rookies with 71 receptions. He shares the lead with Miami's Jarvis Landry, his former LSU teammate. But Beckham has a rookie-best 972 yards, which are exactly 300 more than Landry. In what has to qualify as a bulletin at this point, Beckham's nine touchdowns do not lead the league's rookies. Tampa Bay's Mike Evans has 11 scores (on 59 catches).
- Beckham is averaging 97.2 receiving yards a game, the highest average by a rookie since Groman averaged 105.2 in 1960.
- Including his 35 rushing yards, Beckham has 1,007 yards from scrimmage, which is a Giants rookie record.
- Beckham has three two-touchdown games this season, the most by a Giant since Hakeem Nicks had three in 2010. Evans has three for Tampa Bay.
- Beckham's nine touchdown receptions leave him one shy of the Giants' rookie record, set by Bill Swiacki in 1948. He is also within striking distance of the franchise record for total touchdowns by a rookie, set in 1943 by Bill Paschal with 12 (10 rushing, two receiving).
- Manning's three touchdown passes on Sunday increased his career total to 255. That moved him past Hall of Famer Dan Fouts (254) and into a tie with Sonny Jergensen for 13th on the NFL's career list. Jurgensen, 80, was in MetLife Stadium on Sunday as a member of Washington's broadcast team.
- Sunday's game was the 24th in which Manning has thrown three touchdown passes. The Giants are 18-6 in those games.
- Manning did not throw an interception, improving the Giants' record in games in which he is not picked off to 40-16. They are 50-59 when he is intercepted.
- Manning's career record vs. Washington is 15-6.
The Giants allowed 21 sacks in their seven-game losing streak that ended with a victory last week in Tennessee. In their other seven games, they allowed eight sacks.
- Washington opened the scoring with a field goal on Sunday. The Giants are now 1-6 in games in which their opponents score first. They are 4-3 when they score first.
- The Giants rushed for 49 yards against Washington and are now 1-7 this season when they run for fewer than 100 yards. In 11 seasons under Tom Coughlin, the Giants have rushed for at least 100 yards in 102 of 174 regular-season games. They are 71-31 when they do, 24-48 when they don't.
- The Giants have at least seven sacks in each of their last three games. They are the first NFL team to do that since the 1989 Minnesota Vikings had eight in three consecutive games (vs. Detroit on Oct. 8 and Green Bay on Oct. 15 and at Detroit on Oct. 22). The streak ended when they were "held" to five sacks in a 24-14 Monday night loss to the Giants in Giants Stadium.
- Jason Pierre-Paul's 2.5 sacks on Sunday increased his career total to 39.0. That moved him past Mathias Kiwanuka (38.5) and into eighth place on the franchise's career list. JPP leads the Giants with 9.5 sacks.
- Second-year pro Johnathan Hankins is second with 7.0, the highest total by a Giants defensive tackle since Keith Hamilton had a team-high 10.0 in 2000.
- The Giants did not allow an offensive touchdown in the second half of each of their last two games, the first time they've done that since they did it in four consecutive games from Oct. 10-Nov. 10, 2013.
- On Sunday, the Giants won despite having 85 fewer total yards, 95 fewer rushing yards and four fewer first downs than Washington. It was the first time they won a game under those statistical circumstances since Sept. 27, 1942, also against Washington.
- When the Giants visit the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, head coaches Tom Coughlin and Jeff Fisher will be on opposite sidelines in a regular-season game for the 19th time. That is the second-most meetings by two active coaches. Coughlin and Kanas City's Andy Reid have met 20 times. Fisher leads in head-to-head matchups with Coughlin, 11-7.
- Two of the NFL's top three rookie rushers will be on the field in the Edward Jones Dome. St. Louis' Tre Mason is second with 661 yards and the Giants' Andre Williams is third with 568 yards. Cincinnati's Jeremy Hill leads all rookies with 877 yards and eight touchdowns.
- Punter Steve Weatherford is the Giants' nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which honors players for their community and charity work. Three finalists will be selected next month. The winner will be announced in Arizona, the site of Super Bowl XLIX, during the Fourth Annual NFL Honors awards show on Saturday, Jan. 31.
Prior to 1999, it was simply called the NFL Man of the Year Award. Shortly after Payton, the Chicago Bears' Hall of Fame running back, died in 1999, the award was renamed in his honor. The Man of the Year was first awarded in 1970, but no Giants player has ever received it.