^By TOM CANAVAN=
^AP Sports Writer=
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ Long before the New York Giants lost another game in the closing seconds and saw their playoff hopes take another hit, Odell Beckham Jr. lost it completely.
The record-setting wide receiver blew his cool, lost his temper and probably his game-day paycheck after the NFL looks at the video of the Giants’ 38-35 loss to the Panthers and his run-ins with cornerback Josh Norman and others.
This was a vicious game and Beckham and Norman were responsible for much of it before Cam Newton and the Panthers (14-0) got a final-play 43-yard field goal from Graham Gano to become the NFL’s fourth team to win its first 14 games.
In any other game, the Giants rallying from a 35-7 deficit to tie the game on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Beckham _ he beat Norman _ to tie the score would have been the story.
Beckham’s wild play is what everyone will remember. He was flagged three times for unsportsmanlike contract, including one play in which he came from the sideline for a helmet to helmet block on Norman in the middle of the field.
Beckham refused to discuss his run-in with Norman although he eventually talked about his dropped TD pass in the opening minutes and his personal fouls.
Ask about the personal fouls, he said, “You never want to hurt your team like that. I have learned it all throughout my life you know, always second man gets called, always that it is just unfortunate. You go back and watch the film tomorrow and you learn from it.”
He called his dropped touchdown a lost opportunity.
Almost everyone else was willing to talk about it, especially the Panthers and Norman, who also got nailed for a personal foul for roughing Beckham on a tackle.
Norman called for the league to look at Beckham’s play, which started after he dropped a sure touchdown near the Carolina goal line on the Giants’ opening possession.
“He’s got the maturity of a little kid,” Norman said of Beckham, who finished with six catches for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Norman was infuriated by the helmet to helmet hit.
“He was 15 yards down the field and went straight for my head. It was just crazy, man,” Norman said.
Fellow cornerback Cortland Finnegan didn’t know what got Beckham and Norman going. The helmet-to-helmet hit was the topper.
“Any other defensive guy would have been thrown out of the game for that,” he said.
Beckham wasn’t but the Giants (6-8) now are a game out of first place in the NFC East with two to go.
“On the one end, you realize you can play with anybody, but on the other end, you’re not giving yourselves the opportunity to continue to play, to be able to play with anybody,” Giants defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said. “We got to get these wins to be able to continue our season.”
Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he considered sitting Beckham for some plays, but didn’t.
“He did lose his composure,” Coughlin said. “I think throughout the course of the game he regained it. I won’t try to speak for him.”
Newton stayed away from the nastiness around him, finishing with 340 yards passing and five touchdowns. He has thrown 19 in his last five games and now has a career-best 33.
Making yet another strong statement for NFL Most Valuable Player honors, Newton hit passes of 9, 16 and 12 yards and had a 10-yard run to set up the field goal that gave the Panthers their 18th straight regular-season victory.
Ted Ginn Jr. caught a 3-yarder to make it 7-0. He added a 14-yard TD catch in the third quarter.
After a Rashad Jennings fumble near midfield, Newton threw found Greg Olsen on a 37-yard touchdown catch and run for a 14-7 lead. He also had TD throws of 14 yards to Devin Funchess and 20 to Corey Brown to make it 35-7.
Back came the Giants. Will Tye caught an 8-yard TD pass and Jennings sped 38 yards to make it 35-21. Jennings became the first Giant this year with a 100-yard rushing game with 107.
Shane Vereen’s 8-yard reception brought New York within seven.
Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who lost the index finger on his right hand in a July 4 fireworks accident, got his first sack in his sixth game back.
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