ST. LOUIS - Jameel McClain got the last word.
As he stomped off the field at the Edward Jones Dome after Sunday's 37-27 win over the Rams, the middle linebacker shouted to no one in particular what likely summed up the feelings of every member of the Giants' family.
"That dirty [expletive] don't make you tough,'' he hollered. ". . . That's a dirty . . . team.''
The Giants emerged from the mayhem with a victory, due in no small part to the player who helped ignite it.
As has been his wont this season, Odell Beckham Jr. seemed to be in the middle of every significant moment of the game. He caught touchdown passes of 9 and 80 yards, broke another handful of team records, topped 1,000 receiving yards for the season and helped spark a sideline brawl. He also took a snap in the Wildcat formation, made a one-handed catch and was on either side of a pair of taunting penalties.
The other 21 players? They probably were there on the field, too, but it was hard to notice anything other than the most dynamic rookie player the Giants have ever had (sorry, L.T.).
Beckham even relegated Eli Manning's best game of the season, which came against what had been the league's stingiest defense during the last month, to an afterthought.
It was the melee late in the second quarter -- which resulted in the ejection of three players, including the Giants' Damontre Moore and Preston Parker, both of whom threw punches after Beckham was tackled out of bounds by linebacker Alec Ogletree -- that seemed to solidify the team.
"You don't want to see it get to that level where guys are getting ejected,'' Manning said. "That's not what this is about. But there is a side where it's the second late hit on Odell, a pretty obvious one, and the guy had a little extra as well after the hit. Our guys are going to come to the protection of a teammate. That's part of it.''
Even Tom Coughlin seemed to think that the dust-up inspired the team to some extent.
"I don't think it hurt,'' he said.
More importantly in Coughlin's mind, the Giants did not allow the fisticuffs to define them or the game.
"There were some distractions in the first half,'' Coughlin said. "The one thing I complimented our players on was we did not allow any distraction to keep us from the reason we came here. We came to win and we did win. We continue to play good, solid football.''
Particularly Beckham, who had eight receptions for 148 yards and has 1,120 receiving yards this season. His two touchdown catches gave him 11, setting the team record for receiving scores by a rookie. He is one shy of the Giants' rookie record for total touchdowns, set by running back Bill Paschal in 1943.
With his fourth catch, his 75th of the season, Beckham surpassed Jeremy Shockey for most receptions by a Giants rookie. Beckham already owned the rookie mark for receiving yards. It was Beckham's eighth straight game with at least 90 receiving yards, one game shy of the NFL record of nine straight set by Michael Irvin in 1995.
The Giants opened the second half with the hardest legal hit of the game when running back Andre Williams (110 yards rushing) trucked safety Rodney McCloud at midfield on a 45-yard run that set up a 7-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Rueben Randle.
The Rams responded with a strong 90-yard drive to make it a one-possession game again, but that's when Beckham put the game out of reach.
On third-and-10 from the 20, a play after Rams cornerback E.J. Gaines was carted off the field after being hit by teammate T.J. McDonald (who had launched himself at Beckham), Manning threw a deep pass down the middle to a wide-open Beckham. He caught the ball and high-stepped into the end zone for an 80-yard touchdown that made it 34-20 with 45 seconds left in the third quarter. A 52-yard field goal by Josh Brown with 8:29 left game made it 37-20 and sealed the win.
The Giants certainly were not without sin. They were flagged for taunting and late hits, and even Brown was hit with a personal foul. Not roughing the kicker, roughing by the kicker.
In the end, though, the Giants were able to rise above everything the Rams tried to do to them. It's too late to save this season, but perhaps something was forged for the future.