EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Odell Beckham, Jr. and Sterling Shepard have been Giants teammates for three seasons. They have similar heights and weights, they are Eli Manning's favorite downfield targets, and they are close friends (OBJ was a groomsman when Shepard married Chanel Iman in March).
Beckham and Shepard also share something they are eager to discard – a long winless streak. When the Giants face the Houston Texans tomorrow in NRG Stadium, it will be 630 days since they played in a game the Giants won.
On Jan. 1, 2017, Beckham caught five passes for 44 yards, and Shepard added three receptions for 30 yards when the Giants defeated Washington, 19-10, in the 2016 season finale. The next week, the Giants lost an NFC Wild Card Game in Green Bay.
Last season, Beckham played in four games during the Giants' 0-5 start before suffering a fractured ankle on Oct. 8 that ended his season. Shepard was injured in the same game, and was inactive for five games last year with different ailments. The Giants won three of those games, their only victories of the season.
Beckham and Shepard caught a combined 23 passes in the Giants' first two games this season, but they weren't enough to prevent defeats to Jacksonville and Dallas. Tomorrow, they'll try again to end their long victory drought.
"I don't remember when the last time I won a game was," Beckham said. "Maybe some cards or something, but not an NFL football game. I haven't won one in a long time. It's definitely not a good feeling, not something you come here to do. You don't come here to lose, you just don't."
"I'm itching for a win," Shepard said. "Every single game we won last year I was injured, so I haven't experienced a win since that game in Washington.
"I was talking about that the other day. We were all in the lunchroom talking and I was like, 'I haven't experienced one.' I was on the sideline for a couple of the wins last year, but other than that, me personally being out there on the field contributing, haven't felt it in a while, so I've been itching for one. And what better week than right now?"
Not everyone on the team has waited 19 months to win a game. But when you're 0-2, the wait for victory seems interminable. But the players know 14 games remain to be played, and they can't overstate the ramifications of the first two contests.
"I think that's just what you have to do in football," quarterback Eli Manning said. "You play long enough, you just know it's about obviously fixing the mistakes and going out the next week and getting better. Every week, have a mindset of, 'Hey, we got another game,' and whether you're playing good football, you win two games, you still look at the things – there's always going to be corrections, there's always going to be mistakes. You fix those things and everybody just stay together and figure out a way to fix it. "
"I don't think we feel like we're a much better team than (0-2), I think we know we're a much better team than that," rookie running back Saquon Barkley said. "I think we know that we're so close. In this locker room, no one is overreacting. I'm active on social media, so I think a lot of people outside of this locker room and outside this building who are reacting. We are aware 0-2 is not a great start, but it's not the worst thing possible. It's not like our season is over; it's not college football. It's not like the year is over. We got to continue to work and continue to grind and believe in each other and this could turn out to be a great year."
*The Giants are one of four teams with a league-low four takeaways after two weeks.
"You definitely need them," linebacker Alec Ogletree said. "It helps out stat-wise and energy-wise. You make big plays like that, it gives the team a new life and a lot of energy. Guys want to go out there and keep doing it. It's definitely something we talked about that we need to do, and hopefully this coming week we can start in that direction."
*Linebacker Connor Barwin was a second-round draft choice of the Texans in 2009 and spent his first four NFL seasons in Houston. He returned there as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014.
"I went back there once in Philly and we beat them, so my plan is to do the same thing," Barwin said.
*The Giants faced former top five draft choices Leonard Fournette and Ezekiel Elliot in their first two games. Houston's Lamar Miller receives much less acclaim, but Ogletree believes he is just as talented.
"He's just as good as the rest of the guys out there," Ogletree said. "They have the number one rushing offense, so they're giving him the ball and he makes plays for them. He's a guy that can run with the best of them."
*With their trips to Dallas and Houston, the Giants are playing consecutive games in Texas for the first time since 1985, when they beat the Oilers, 35-14, in Houston on Dec. 8, and lost, 28-21, in Dallas on Dec. 15.
*The Giants lead their series with the Texans, 3-1. They have won three straight games in the series since losing in Houston in 2002. This is just the Giants' fifth visit to Houston since they first played there in 1984. They are 3-1 in Houston, beating the Oilers in 1985 and 1994, and the Texans in 2010.
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