The Pittsburgh Steelers had to face more than just the defending Super Bowl champs in their 24-2 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday. A flight to New York the day of the game, awful officiating and one of the worst coaching decisions that you will ever see were a few of the other obstacles that the Steelers had to overcome.
Five bad calls in the matter of a few minutes helped the Giants to multiple touchdowns.
The first was a ticky-tack pass interference call on Keenan Lewis, followed by a terrible call on Ryan Clark for helmet-to-helmet contact. The Giants would then come up short of the end zone on a running play, but it was called a score.
Later, Ben Roethlisberger’s arm was moving forward on a play that was ruled a fumble and returned by the Giants for a touchdown. Even if it was a fumble—and it wasn’t—Heath Miller was illegally blocked from behind, preventing him from making a tackle.
Despite the bad calls, the Steelers were in position to tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter when Mike Tomlin inexplicably called a fake field goal to Shaun Suisham, who was promptly stopped for a loss.
The bad calls, failed conversions and numerous injuries were not enough to prevent the Steelers from earning their fifth victory of the season, in what may have been the team’s most impressive win of the year.
The come-from-behind victory did not reflect how much the Steelers actually dominated the game, as they outplayed the Giants for three of quarters.
All three phases of the game were outstanding for the Steelers, as they got production from the offense, a dominating performance from the defense and excellent field position from the special teams.
Even with the victory being a total team effort, there were several players who stood out in the victory over the Giants.
Roethlisberger, Lewis, LaMarr Woodley and Chris Rainey all had strong games on Sunday.
Roethlisberger easily outdueled Eli Manning, as he completed 21-of-30 passes—including a couple of drops—for 216 yards and two touchdowns. His only faults were the “fumble” and a poorly thrown ball that resulted in an interception.
Lewis was outstanding early on with three passes defended and a fourth which resulted in a bad pass interference call. He did pick up a second pass interference later, but overall, played a very strong game.
Pittsburgh got a much-needed pass rush from Woodley, who helped force some bad throws and picked up a forced fumble which all but sealed the game on what was the Giants’ final offensive play.
Meanwhile, Rainey was brilliant on kick returns, as he averaged 34.6 yards per return and consistently put the Steelers in excellent field position.
Besides the players, Todd Haley and Dick LeBeau were brilliant with their game plans.
Haley utilized a quick passing game and a power ground game to combat the Giants’ pass rush and adjusted his scheme as the game progressed.
The “old and slow” Steelers defense was dominant from the start, holding one of the best offenses in the league to 13 points and Eli Manning to only 10-of-24 passing for 125 yards and an interception.
Pittsburgh outgained New York 349 to 182 yards and controlled the ball for 35:15.
Ike Taylor is back and is back in a big way.
The Giants only threw the ball his way two or three times all game, and one of those was an interception that led to a Steelers touchdown.
Taylor dropped a potential second interception in the end zone—though Ryan Clark was penalized on the play.
No Giants receiver had more than 67 yards receiving, and Hakeem Nicks only had one catch for 10 yards.
Who earned the game ball for the victory over the Giants?
Maurkice Pouncey and Willie Colon
Roethlisberger was sacked four times, but overall, he had plenty of time to throw, especially late in the game when he made a huge third down completion to Emmanuel Sanders.
Maurkice Pouncey and Willie Colon were a big part of the reason why the Steelers offense was so successful.
They helped provide Roethlisberger with a pocket for most of the game and were devastating in run blocking.
For the third straight week, the Steelers had a running back rush for over 100 yards, as Isaac Redman had 147 of the team’s 158 rushing yards.
As a team, the Steelers averaged 4.5 yards per carry and they had one touchdown on the ground.
When Antonio Brown went out early with a lower leg injury, the offense began to slow down. But then Sanders stepped up his game and made some huge plays.
Sanders’s biggest play came on a punt return that went for 63 yards to put the Steelers in business. However, they failed to convert on a fake field goal attempt.
In addition to his return, Sanders only had two receptions for 20 yards, but one of those when for a touchdown and the other was on a crucial third down late in the game which virtually clinched the win.
Injuries to Rashard Mendenhall and Jonathan Dwyer put the Steelers short-handed in the backfield, but that was not an issue with Isaac Redman in there.
Redman was outstanding with 26 carries for 147 yards and a touchdown as well as two receptions on the day.
Not only do the Steelers’ have a ground game, but they have a pretty dominate ground game.
Redman ran hard and physical all day against the Giants, pounding his way forward on every carry and using some slick spin moves to pick up extra yardage.
For the day, Redman averaged 5.7 yards per carry and helped set the tone. He carried the ball up and down the field and was instrumental on the game-winning drive.
Redman had five carries for 21 yards and a score on the game-winning drive and then had a 28-yard carry which allowed the Steelers to take a knee to run out the clock.
Without Redman’s physical presence against the Giants, the offense would have not been nearly as dominant, and for that reason, he earned the game ball.