Giants Stumble Against Steelers, 24-20
East Rutherford, NJ – The Giants defense did all it could to provide a boost to its slumping offensive counterparts, including scoring a touchdown on a fumble recovery by linebacker Michael Boley following a forced fumble by defensive end Osi Umenyiora on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
But it wasn’t enough, as Roethlisberger and the Steelers took a page out of Eli Manning’s playbook by mounting a fourth-quarter come from behind game winning drive that cumulated in a one-yard touchdown run by running back Isaac Redman to give the Steelers the 24-20 win.
The slumping offense finished with a paltry 182 total net yards, 125 of them coming via the passing game as Manning’s 41.1 passer rating was his lowest of the year. Meanwhile, the running game managed only68 yards on 22 carries, an average of 3.1 yards per carry, as the offense, for the third week in a row, failed to win the time of possession battle.
“We’re just not executing as well,” said Manning of the offense’s problems. “Third downs – that’s a big part; just not getting firsts. A little off here; just not executing; guys not doing everything perfectly; me missing some throws – so it’s just a combination of everything.”
Over the past two weeks, the Giants have completed just five of 25 third down attempts (20%). Of their nine scores on offense in those two games, only two have been touchdowns.
Manning, who has not thrown for more than 200 yards in the last two games, said he doesn’t think he’s in a slump.
“I feel like I’m throwing the ball accurately when I have opportunities to,” he said. “It’s just trying to find guys open and trying to just get in good situations.”
Head coach Tom Coughlin, however, had a different opinion.
“I’m sure he would come and tell you he didn’t play as well as he would have liked to play and that’s what we all feel,” said Coughlin. “We’ve got to get him back on track. He is our guy and we have to get him back playing the way he was a couple of weeks ago. And we have to do it in a hurry.”
The offense wasn’t the only problem with the Giants, as New York yielded 158 rushing yards to the Steelers, 147 of which were recorded by running back Isaac Redman.
“I really can’t tell you what it is until we go back and watch film, but for whatever it was, (Redman) kept getting in the second level,” said safety Antrel Rolle, who had nine tackles.
“I think the majority of their yards came after contact,” said linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka. “I’m sure the coaches will go back and look at it and determine what they could have done differently schematically, but I think as players, we have to be able to wrap up and sure tackle. You’re not facing a slasher; you’re’ facing a guy who’s going to hit you and try to pound it so we have to be able to adjust for that.”
Special teams also had its struggles, particularly on the return units. Punt returner Emanuel Sanders broke a 63-yarder on his final return while on kickoffs, Chris Rainey averaged 34.6 yards per return which included a 68-yarder.
“It really came down to us not executing and them executing,” said linebacker Mark Herzlich, who in addition to his special teams duty, made his first start of the season in place of the injured Chase Blackburn. “We talked about it before the game. We have to play longer and harder than them. We didn’t do that. We left seams open in the coverage, which we don’t normally do, but that’s part of the deal. We’ve got to play well and play hard every single play, every single week.”
The Giants, who fell to 6-3 on the season, will look to snap out of their team-wide funk next week against the Bengals on the road.