Steelers vs. Giants: Eli Off His Game Again, Leaves Door Open in NFC East

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistNovember 4, 2012

A series of inconsistent and sloppy offensive performances has finally caught up to the New York Giants, who lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday after being outplayed for the third time in as many weeks. 

The Giants got the majority of the breaks Sunday—benefiting from two or three bad calls in crucial moments in the first half—and had an emotional home crowd supporting them. Nonetheless, they fell in a game they deserved to lose.

The fact that the defending Super Bowl champions have struggled this much of late combined with the revelation that Eli "Mr. Clutch" Manning can't save the day every single week has to be encouraging for the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. Both teams trail the G-men by two games in the division but can make statements in prime-time matchups Sunday and Monday night, respectively. 

Losing to the Steelers is certainly nothing to be ashamed of, but it's how the Giants lost on Sunday.

They were beaten by—of all players—Isaac Redman time and again. A defense that has always been criticized for its inability to defend the pass—and that was still an issue Sunday, with Ben Roethlisberger completing 70 percent of his passes and Mike Wallace clowning the secondary on a 62-yard touchdown—is suddenly looking very vulnerable on the ground. 

The only difference now is that Manning and the passing game haven't been able to compensate for the team's defensive lapses. 

In his last three games, Manning has completed just 55 percent of his passes and has twice as many interceptions (four) as touchdowns (two). He has now posted back-to-back sub-60 passer ratings for the first time since 2009. 

It's unbelievably difficult to defend titles in this league, and we're again witnessing why that's the case with what the Giants are going through right now. Considering New York's struggles, the fact it has targets on its backs and a very difficult schedule ahead, it's looking as though the NFC East race is about to become very interesting.