NFC East Review: Pittsburgh Steelers Grind Down New York Giants
Several teams in the NFC East had the opportunity to record signature wins – and one still does heading into the Monday Night game – but at the end of the day on Sunday, all that those teams had to show for their efforts was major disappointment.
With the Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) in desperate need of a win against New Orleans tonight, here is what happened with the other three teams in the division on Sunday:
- Giants shut down
The New York Giants had a chance to improve to 7-2, take absolute control of the division, prove they are ready to defend their Super Bowl title by beating the Pittsburgh Steelers and also win for New York and New Jersey fans who suffered through Hurricane Sandy.
The Giants took a 20-10 lead into the fourth quarter, but unlike New York’s Week 2 final-quarter explosion against Tampa Bay, it was the Steelers who had one of their best quarters of the season, scoring twice to walk away with a 24-20 victory.
New York jumped out to a lead thanks to terrible officiating in the first half. Of note:
- A phantom 41-yard pass interference call against Keenan Lewis.
- A dreadful personal foul/hit-to-the-head call in the end zone against Ryan Clark on that same drive, after the Steelers had stopped the Giants on 3rd-and-goal – despite the fact that Clark never even came close to touching Victor Cruz’s head with any part of his body.
- Rewarding Andre Brown with a TD to end that drive, even though he was on the ground before the ball crossed the goal line.
- The blown call on the “Tuck Rule” play, turning what should have been an incomplete pass into a Giants TD.
- The referees somehow completing missing a blatant block-to-the-back against Heath Miller around the 10-yard line on Michael Boley’s subsequent fumble return.
To the Giants’ credit, they took full advantage of all the breaks they got, and were able to take a 14-7 lead. They added a pair of FGs in the second half to go up 20-10, but could not get anything going on offense in the fourth quarter.
State of the day: Eli Manning dropped back to pass 9 times in 3rd-down situations – he failed to convert all nine times, getting sacked two times, throwing six incomplete passes and completing a pass that was well short of a first down.
Here is what the Giants' offense did in the fourth quarter on Sunday:
- Two running plays that netted 1 yard
- Manning 1-for-5, 1 yard
- Manning sacked two times, for -20 yards
- Three punts
Total yards in quarter: Nine offensive plays, -18 yards
New York was able to sack Ben Roethlisberger four times, getting credit for the forced fumble and subsequent TD return; Corey Webster also intercepted Roethlisberger to cut short a Pittsburgh drive.
- Ground game
The Giants simply could not stop Isaac Redman and the Steelers ground game. Redman had a career-high 147 rushing yards, the final 28 coming on a late-game burst that sealed the game. The Steelers out-rushed the Giants 158-68, averaging 4.5 YPC in the process. New York, meanwhile, averaged just 3.1 YPC on its 22 attempts.
Redman proved very difficult to tackle, as he repeatedly broke tackles and churned out yardage after getting hit. The 35 rushing attempts allowed the Steelers to maintain ball control; Pittsburgh held the ball for 35:15, and ran 69 offensive plays compared to New York's 48.
Overall on offense, the Steelers out-gained the Giants 349-182.