Odell Beckham Jr. (267929)
Credit: Bill Moore photo

As Pat Shurmur, Odell Beckham Jr. and Eli Manning entered the Giants’ postgame interview room in succession to address the media, they each carried a demeanor of both discontent and optimism. The Giants had just lost a decidedly winnable game to the Jacksonville Jaguars, falling 20-15 at home in Week 1 despite the defense allowing just 13 points and none in the second half.

The defeat was primarily the result of self-inflicted wounds by the offense, most costly among them untimely dropped passes and an Eli Manning interception leading to Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack’s 32-yard return for a touchdown with 11:24 remaining in the fourth quarter. The TD and converted extra-point extended the Jaguars’ lead to 20-9.

“It’s disappointing when you lose,” said Shurmur after dropping his debut as the Giants’ head coach.

“The one good thing is our team fought from the front to the back. They fought all the way through the game. Unfortunately, as is the case in a lot of these games that are close, we just didn’t make enough plays in the end to win the game…but we’ve got to move on and regroup and get ready to play Dallas.” The Giants will face the 0-1 Cowboys this Sunday (8:20 p.m.) on the road.

Shurmur hailed the defensive unit, which held the Jaguars to two first-quarter field goals and a late second-quarter touchdown.

“It was excellent team defense in the second half,” he asserted. “To hold any team at any level pointless in a half is terrific. They battled and they fought hard, and they did what they needed to do on that side of the ball.”

Beckham, who was playing in his first game since fracturing his left ankle last Oct. 8 in Week 5, displayed the form that has made him a two-time Second Team All Pro and three-time Pro Bowl selection in just his fourth season. Facing a Jaguars defense that was ranked No. 2 overall in the NFL last season and expected to be as good in the 2018 campaign, Beckham caught 11 passes for 111 yards on 15 targets, looking as explosive as he was before the injury.

“I’m just thankful to be out there again,” said the 25-year-old wide receiver. “I know I told the story many times, I was in the basement night after night just praying to get back together mentally for the season and allow me to come out and put my best foot forward today.”

“…Once you see everything flash before you,” continued Beckham introspectively, “and you don’t know if you are going to be the same person again, you don’t know if football is going to be the same again, I got a different perspective. Just being out there and competing with the best, I wish we would have gotten a win, but at the same time it’s a good starting point for our team.”

Manning echoed Beckham’s sentiments on the Giants’ prospects heading into Dallas.

“I’m encouraged just because I have seen the way we work and the men we have in this locker room,” said Manning. “The talent that we have and guys taking care of each other. Just encouraged by the whole situation. We can get things going and we can play at a high level. We will make it work.”