May 21, 2022

Pittsburgh Steals Victory Over Big Blue

East Rutherford, NJ - With major areas in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut still under ruins due to Hurricane Sandy, the New York Giants wanted to give temporary relief to their fans when they hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium. After beating the Dallas Cowboys last week to improve to 6-2 (2-2 in the division) Big Blue wanted to start the second half of the season on a good note knowing that under head coach Tom Coughlin they have played 64 second half games losing 37 of them. In the first eight games under Coughlin during those years, they played 72 games winning a stunning 53. So what team would show to face a Steelers team making its first appearance at the Met-O-Lands?

The Giants second half struggles seemed to continue at the start as they couldn't generate anything offensively. When it looked like they were ready to make a move, Eli Manning threw his customary interception into double coverage.

Manning had moved the team from its own 16 to the 41-yard line before trying to get the pass to Victor (Salsa) Cruz. The Steelers would take advantage of the turnover as QB Ben Roethlisberger marched them down using 11 plays, 58 yards ending in a 4 yards touchdown pass to wide receiver Emanuel Sanders.

The Giants would then go on an eight play drive going 62 yards ending in a 1-yard touchdown run by Andre Brown. The drive was aided by a pass interference penalty by Steelers cornerback Keenan Lewis. With the ball on the second-yard line, Manning tries to thread the needle to Cruz which falls incomplete. However, Cruz is hit late by safety Ryan Clark giving the Giants first and goal. Cruz laid on the turf with bruised ribs, left the game on his own power before returning the next time New York had possession.

New York took its first lead of the game (14-7) as the defense, possibly spurred on by the Cruz late hit, forced a Roethlisberger turnover. At the Giants 32, Big Ben goes back to pass and is hit by Osi Umenyora. Linebacker Michael Boley picks up the fumble and scrambles 71 yards for the score. Pittsburgh would add three more right before the half after New York's Lawrence Tynes missed a 51-yard field goal. Roethlisberger completed two passes totaling 47 yards setting up the Shaun Suisham 30-yard field goal cutting the lead to four (14-10).

The Steelers looked like they were going to strike at the start of the third quarter when Chris Rainey returned the kick-off 68 yards to the Giants 35 yard line. They would gain only one yard on the drive as Justin Tuck came up with his second sack of the game forcing them to punt. They extended the lead to seven (17-10) after Manning hits tight end Martelllus Bennett for 33-yards. It sets up a Tynes 50-yard field goal.

Roethlisberger then had a Manning moment of his own resulting in an interception. Giants cornerback Corey Webster steps in front of Mike Wallace to pick off the pass, leading to Tynes' second field goal of the day (23 yards) to put them up 20-10. That lead was short-lived in a very fast way as Roethlisberger, from the shotgun hits Wallace on a quick pass and he turns on the afterburners.

Fifty-one yards later, he's in the end zone bringing the Steelers within three (20-17). The Giants gave Pittsburgh the ball back failing to get a first down on their next possession and looked to tie or retake the lead. With the ball on the Giants third-yard line, Pittsburgh sets up for a game-tying field. Instead, they fake it as holder Drew Butler flips the ball behind to Suisham who is tackled for a one-yard loss. Another New York three and out gave Pittsburgh another opportunity to take the lead and this time they didn't waste it.

The Steelers began on their own 49 with 8:55 left looking to atone for their earlier miscue. Roethlisberger uses a combination of runs (35 yards) and passes (29 yards) to move them downfield before Isaac Redman runs it in from one yard for the game-winning score. With 4:53 left and Manning's recent history, the Giants were once again thinking about a last-minute victory. Unfortunately, it would not be as Manning (10-24, 125 yards) could not pull it off as once again like the previous possessions of the last quarter they could not convert a first down. With all that, the Giants were still in the position to get another shot if they could get the ball back as they had all 3 timeouts left. Pittsburgh had the ball with 2:55 needing one first down to come away with the win. The Giants used two of their timeouts stopping the Steelers has the only gained one yard. That's when Roethlisberger finds Redman once again for 16 yards. Game over.

It was an emotional day for the Giants, knowing they were playing in front of fans, many of them who would leave the stadium to return to no heat, hot water or electricity. Big Blue wanted to send them home on a good note.

Said head coach Tom Coughlin afterward, "what we were trying to do was give them a few hours of enjoyment in a very, very difficult time. To let them know we understood the mass difficulties that were facing our neighbors. That many, many people were fighting to survive. I hope the message came through we were trying."

They came up short.

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