MikeTomlin_UMT

When the Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Dallas Cowboys weeks ago, many folks thought their season was over. After all, they had just lost their 4th straight win and saw their record fall to 4-5. Many folks were saying that the defense wasn’t any good and the offensive play-calling was horrible and they probably were going to lose to winless Cleveland the following week. Well, after they beat the winless Cleveland Browns 24-9 and the Indianapolis Colts 28-7 Thanksgiving night, it still wasn’t enough for the critics as they said they still had to beat a contending team.

Enter the NY Giants, who came into Heinz Field red-hot on a 6-game winning streak and an 8-3 record. They were to be the Steelers biggest challenge in the 2016 season, and after the Baltimore Ravens had beaten the Miami Dolphins 38-6, the pressure was on the Steelers to somehow find a way for them to beat the Giants to keep pace with the Ravens who lead the AFC North Division.

Well, if the Steelers were supposed to feel pressure, someone forgot to send them the memo as they beat up on the Giants 24-14 and sent them back to New Jersey with a broken 6-game losing streak. The Steelers manhandled a team that had hopes of keeping pace with the Dallas Cowboys, whom they trail in the NFC East Division. With the Giants loss, the 11-1 Cowboys became the first team in the NFL to clinch a playoff spot in the 2016 season. There’s no doubt that they probably wanted to send the Steelers a ‘thank you’ card for that performance.

As for the Steelers, they once again had an outstanding performance by their defense which for the 3rd straight game, realized that they could put pressure on the offense. They sacked Giants QB Eli Manning 3 times and intercepted him twice, once again evoking memories of those great Steeler defenses of the past and providing balance with the offense with the goal of getting the Steelers to the playoffs for the 3rd straight season.

LB Lawrence Timmons and rookie S Sean Davis picked off Manning and the defense overall turned the ball over on downs three times in this game. Meanwhile, the offense led by QB Ben Roethlisberger was able to put 24 points on the board against a stunned Giants defense who hadn’t even given up a 100-yard game yet this season.

But RB Le’Veon Bell ruined that streak as he rushed for 118 yards on 29 carries, his 3rd straight 100-yard performance. And not even a fumble could dampen his night as he helped wear down the Giants defense. Roethlisberger had another stellar game as he passed for 298 yards, 2 TDs, and an interception. 110 of those yards went to new TE LaDarius Green who had his best game as a Steeler. Green also caught a 20-yard TD pass. The other TD went to All-Pro WR Antonio Brown who caught a spectacular 22-yard TD in the back of the end zone. The Steelers didn’t have K Chris Boswell in this game because he suffered an abdominal strain, so they signed K Randy Bullock, and he made quite an impression as he kicked three field goals to add to the Steelers lead.

But the Steelers first points came on a safety when Giants offensive lineman Erik Flowers was called for holding in the end zone, giving the Steelers a 2-0 lead. After shutting down the Giants offense, the Steelers offense got into field goal range which leads to Bullock’s first FG extending the Steelers lead to 5-0. Then the Giants went on an impressive drive that led them to the Steelers 10-yard line, but when Manning threw the ball towards the end zone, it was snatched out of the air by Timmons for the interception. The Steelers LB return the ball 58 yards to the Giants 40. Big Ben took over from there and eventually found Brown for the TD, extending their lead to 11-0 after a missed 2-point conversion attempt. The Steelers would add three more on Bullock’s second FG to go into halftime with a 14-0 lead.

In the 3rd quarter, the Giants were still unable to do anything on the Steelers defense and their second drive, they got to the Steelers goal line, but were once again unable to convert on 4th down as LB Ryan Shazier batted down a Manning pass. But then the Steelers made their first mistake of the game when Bell took the ball from Ben and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by the Giants Eli Apple. Manning then led the Giants on their most significant drive of the night which finished with a 13-yard TD pass to RB Rashad Jennings, closing the Steelers lead to 14-7.

But the Steelers didn’t give the Giants any time to celebrate as they went on a significant drive of their own by driving seven plays for 88 yards and ending with the 20-yard TD pass from Big Ben to Green, extending the Steelers lead to 21-7. The Steelers then forced the Giants to punt, and the Steelers then made their second mistake of the game when Apple intercepted big Ben’s pass that was intended for WR Eli Rogers. But the Giants were once again unable to capitalize as Manning once again went for it on 4th down and fired a pass towards the end zone that was intercepted by Steelers rookie S Sean Davis. Bullock would eventually add his 3rd FG, and the Giants would add a late TD as the Steelers sealed to a 24-14 victory.

For the 8-4 Giants, Manning passed for 195 yards, the TD and the 2 INTs. The Steelers defense held the Giants running game to 56 total yards, and Odell Beckham Jr. led his team with ten catches for 100 yards.

With the win, the Steelers improved to 7-5 and once again tied with the Ravens for 1st place in the AFC North. But the Ravens hold the tiebreaker over the Steelers since they beat them 21-14 earlier this season.

Ray’s Take: I honestly thought the Steelers would show up for this game because they’re backs are against the wall. It’s what they do: Play well when the pressure’s on. They gave the Giants a healthy dose of Bell, who performed well, but it was truly Green who had his best game as a Steeler as he scored his first TD to go along with 100 yards. They said he would be a good replacement for the retired Heath Miller, and now he’s finally looking like it. And Kudos to that defense who shut down their opponent for the 3rd straight game. They’re playing with confidence, and they need to keep it going as there are only four games left in the season.

Next up: The Steelers will now travel to Buffalo next Sunday to face the 6-6 Buffalo Bills. Injuries: the Steelers suffered two injuries as rookie DT Jason Hargrave and S Shamarko Thomas both left the game with concussions.

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on Twitter

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