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Russell Shepard “freelanced” touchdown catch from Odell Beckham

Odell was supposed to throw, but Shepard wasn’t supposed to be the target

NFL: Chicago Bears at New York Giants
Russell Shepard hauls in a touchdown pass from Odell Beckham on Sunday.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The option pass from Odell Beckham Jr. to Russell Shepard that went for a 49-yard touchdown early in the second half did not win Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears for the New York Giants. It did, give the Giants an early third-quarter lead after an awful offensive first half and alert everyone to the idea that maybe, just maybe, an upset was brewing in the Meadowlands.

Beckham’s wrong-footed 50-yard throw was impressive.

It was not, however, the most amazing thing about the momentum-changing play. What was?

How about the fact that Shepard, the wide-open by 20 yards recipient of the pass from Beckham, wasn’t even supposed to be in the pass route. He said he “freelanced” the play.

What was Shepard supposed to be doing?

“Probably blocking Khalil Mack so he could throw the ball,” Shepard said.

Shepard said he saw the Chicago defense all go to the right, where Beckham was moving around behind the line of scrimmage with the ball, and “kinda just snuck through the crease.”

The only question was whether Beckham would find him. Shepard said he was screaming and waving and, just when it appeared Beckham would run with the ball, he pulled up and launched it to Shepard.

“He did an amazing job of seeing me,” Shepard said. “For him to see me and not know I was supposed to be there is crazy.”

“Sometimes you have to draw it up in the dirt,” said Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

Beckham said the play was designed for Bennie Fowler.

“I told Bennie (Fowler) I don’t care what happens, I’m going to throw it to you and they double covered him and this grown man (Shepard) from LSU who I’ve played with for a long time, I saw him down the middle of the field and I was like this can’t be real and I just launched it to him,” Beckham said. “It’s all good, he wasn’t supposed to do that, but he’s just playing football and he came up with a huge play for us. Very, very, very big play.”

Beckham said he spoke to his teammates at halftime, with the Giants trailing 14-10.

“I addressed the team at halftime and I told them there’s just something I had to get off my chest. I love these boys,” Beckham said. “Every time I put on a helmet, whether it’s practice or it’s a game, I’m going to give it my all and I feel like I owed them more, to give them all of me and whatever that entails.”

Shepard said he waited so long for the ball to reach him that it was “like a punt.”

“He’s (Beckham) the best person I’ve seen with a ball in his hands. He can hit a home run in an MLB stadium, he can kick a soccer ball. I’ve known him since he was 16, 17 and he’s probably one of the best people I’ve see with a ball in his hands. He kicked a 50-yard field goal a couple weeks ago.”

Shepard’s freelancing, combined with Beckham’s vision and arm, didn’t win the game for the Giants on Sunday. It did, though, give them a chance.