The New York Giants proved to be just another victim of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ recent hot streak, falling 24-20 to Ben Roethlisberger and Co.
Mike Wallace got the fourth-quarter scoring started for the Steelers on a 51-yard catch-and-run with 14:05 left to go. Running back Issac Redman, who rumbled for 147 yards on 26 carries, put a cap on his brilliant day with a one-yard touchdown run with just over four minutes remaining.
Eli Manning (10-of-24, 125 yards, one interception) and the Giants had a chance to work their magic again and give the tri-state area something to cheer about in the post-Hurricane Sandy era, but the offense was able to muster only one yard on three plays before punting.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin let Redman and his offense run out the clock from there.
Giants fans may be concerned with the futility of the passing game at this point, as Manning and his receivers struggled to hook up on big plays for the second game in a row. At this point, after two contests riddled with dropped passes and miscommunications, New Yorkers are being plagued by memories of their two-time Super Bowl MVP’s early years.
Over the course of the last 120 minutes of football, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has stood on the sideline in shock as his high-powered group of weapons has found the endzone just twice.
Just like last week against the Dallas Cowboys, the Giants were only able to against the Steelers on a one-yard touchdown plunge by Andre Brown. Their other 13 points came on a 70-yard fumble return by Michael Boley and two third-quarter field goals by Lawrence Tynes.
Don’t be fooled by the defensive touchdown, Perry Fewell’s group wasn’t impressive at home on Sunday.
A team seldom wins games when its defense gives up 158 yards rushing. Redman’s massive frame makes him a force inside the tackles, which allows the Steelers to control the clock as they please. Pittsburgh won the time of possession battle by more than 10 minutes (35:15 to 24:45).
If the Giants run defense doesn’t improve, Manning’s offense isn’t going to be on the field as much as it needs to be, which opens up countless opportunities for opposing teams on both ends of the ball.
However, the defense should look better next week, as starting linebacker Chase Blackburn will likely return from his hamstring injury. Backup Mark Herzlich registered eight total tackles on the day, but wasn’t able to direct pre-snap traffic like Blackburn has been able to.
Another issue for the Giants is what they will do with rookie cornerback Jayron Hosley. The third-round pick in the 2012 draft out of Virginia Tech possesses supreme athletic ability and ballhawking tendencies — characteristics embodied in his diving first-quarter strip of Chris Rainey — but he is lost in zone coverage and appears uncomfortable in the system.
Coughlin has dealt with this before in the form of 2011 first-rounder Prince Amukamara, who had all the necessary physical tools to evolve into a standout cornerback, but dealt with injury issues (as has Hosley) and took some time to get acclimated to the system.
Amukamara is doing just fine now and has become one of the top young corners in the league.
It all comes back to Manning, though, who after the game said (via ESPN), “Obviously, I didn’t play well last night. And there is no hiding it. I didn’t play my best football. I got to play better. I think that is all I am worried about.”
As Eli goes, so go the Giants.