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Pittsburgh Overcomes Zebras’ Questionable Calls to Oust Giants

Posted By Rob Stroup On Nov 5 2012 @ 9:58 am In Pittsburgh Steelers | No Comments

A lot of folks make day business trips to New York City.  The Pittsburgh Steelers had a tight agenda in their brief visit to the greater New York area – and, it resulted in a very successful day at the office.  A ten-point fourth quarter deficit was followed by two Steeler touchdowns to snatch a 24-20 victory from the jaws of defeat.

Both the Giants and Steelers took a while to feel out their opponents, as evidenced by the sluggish first half.  Perhaps the fallout of Hurricane Sandy had a more profound effect on the mentality of each team.  Neither offense got into any kind of consistent rhythm early in the game.  The Giants’ offensive productivity largely was a result of Steeler penalties and turnovers. Pittsburgh’s offense started gashing New York’s defensive front with steady doses of running back du jour, Isaac Redman.  However, the Giants’ DLs were disrupting Pittsburgh’s passing game with deflections, a forced fumble, and constant pressure in Ben Roethlisberger’s face.

In the second half, Pittsburgh’s balanced attack took its toll on Giants defenders.  The once fierce pass rush looked weary as the Steelers picked up chunks of yards in the comeback victory.

Mike Wallace candidly and succinctly offered up insight into the psyche of his team – “I feel like this is possibly the best win that we’ve had since I’ve been on this team, just because we overcame so much.  We had a lot of adversity to overcome today, but everybody stayed together. Everybody stayed positive and we won the game.”

Two Game-Changing Sequences

1.  At the end of the first half, New York took advantage of a legitimate 46-yard pass interference penalty on Keenan Lewis to move into the fringe of field goal range.  The Giants had two costly false start penalties before returning to Lawrence Tynes’ outside range.  With 31 seconds remaining, his 51-yard field goal fell about three yards short.  Two pass plays over the middle accounted for 47 yards, which got Pittsburgh close enough for Shaun Suisham to hit a chip shot field goal to make the halftime score Giants 14, Steelers 10.

2.  As the fourth quarter began, the score was New York 20, Pittsburgh 10.  As has happened so often throughout the first half of the 2012 season, the Steelers succeeded on third down.  Mike Wallace took in a short slant pass that may have only gone for 5-10 yards, but he turned on the afterburners to streak across the field and away from Corey Webster, Jayron Hosley, and Prince Amukamara for a huge 51-yard catch and run TD.

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Winners

Isaac Redman – the Steelers second string (or is it third string…who can tell anymore?) RB looked phenomenal all game long.  He ran with power, was decisive, and most importantly, slowed down the New York pass rushers in the second half with his effective running, often between the tackles.  Redman did it all on his 26 carries for 147 yards, which included the game-winning TD run with 4:02 remaining.  Redman’s bowling ball / pinball run of 28 yards breaking multiple tackles at the first line of defense allowed Pittsburgh to line up in the victory formation following the two-minute warning.

The return game – Chris Rainey had kickoff returns for 48 and 68 yards that set up Pittsburgh in excellent field position in the first half.  Emmanuel Sanders also had a 63-yard punt return in the fourth quarter that put the Steelers in the red zone.  The silver lining in the return game?  No significant penalties!!

Pittsburgh’s defense – an overall team effort forced Eli Manning to have an awful day with 10 completions on 24 attempts and only 125 passing yards.

  • Ike Taylor deftly undercut a deep out route to pick off a wobbly Manning throw to set up the Steelers’ first scoring drive of the day.  The Giants had three possessions in the fourth quarter – each time,Pittsburghforced a three-and-out.  Talk about clutch…
  • After Redman’s go-ahead score, I quickly wrote a note to myself – “Giants chuck it deep, they win.  If not, Pittsburgh wins.”  The only semi-deep pass was intended for Martellus Bennett and he was unable to haul in the pass because he was blanketed by multiple Steeler defenders.

Overcoming adversity – The wave of emotion felt by New Yorkers and their fans was certainly understandable and palpable.  To score a victory at this juncture of the season while being undermanned at many skill positions was impressive.

Losers

Officiating – Bill Leavy and his crew appeared to offer the New York Giants some gift calls that directly resulted in up to 14 points, especially in the first half.

  • Upon first glance, Keenan Lewis’ defensive pass interference on New York’s first scoring looked correct.  But, after watching the replay, it became apparent that Lewis barely touched Hakeem Nicks and was in good position to skillfully deflect away the pass attempt.
  • On the same drive, the most obvious and egregious call of the day was Ryan Clark’s personal foul for a “blow to the head” of Victor Cruz on 3rd and goal.  The pass was defended by Ike Taylor (and should have been intercepted), but behind Taylor was Clark using his shoulder to drill Cruz in his chest.  Later, we learned that Cruz had bruised ribs on the play.  It’s quite a hit to injure a guy’s ribs AND make direct contact to his helmet all in one play.  Instead of kicking a field goal, the Giants were awarded (or, should I say gifted) a first down and scored a touchdown.
  • In the second quarter with Pittsburgh already in field goal range, Ben Roethlisberger cocked to throw.  As he did, Osi Umenyiora swatted at Big Ben’s throwing arm.  The ball appeared to still be under Ben’s control as his arm came forward.  As he squeezed to reload the ball, it squirted loose and was picked up by Michael Boley for a 70-yard fumble return for a touchdown.  Never mind the painfully obvious block in the back on Heath Miller as he attempted to track down Boley.  Leavy told Roethlisberger that the ball came loose in the quarterback’s hand as he was following through, and was thus a live ball.  So, even with the aid of replay, Leavy’s eyesight is questionable.
  • The Steelers committed six penalties for 119 yards, which is more than the Giants had passing yards.
  • In the first half, Shane Weatherford punted the ball and it landed out of bounds.  Try and picture this – the ball LANDED out of bounds at the Pittsburgh 24-yard line.  It was about three yards out of bounds when it LANDED.  The official marked the ball at the Pittsburgh 22.  The ball’s flight path had to have left the field of play somewhere between the 25 and 30-yard line…nowhere near the 22!!  Sorry…I’m venting.

Offense taking advantage of the return game – Remember those great returns that were such a positive?  Well…each of those three stellar returns that gave Pittsburgh a short field (each possession beginning in Giants’ territory) resulted in ZERO points!  I guess the Todd Haley offense requires a long field to produce.

More injuries at skill positions – Antonio Brown suffered a mild high ankle sprain.  Coach Mike Tomlin believes that Brown should be able to play next Monday.  Chris Rainey was hurt on a second half kickoff return with a rib injury.  The severity is yet to be determined.

The fake field goal call – After Sanders’ electric punt return to the Giants’ 13, Pittsburgh stalled by only achieving 9 ½ yards on three plays.  The field goal unit trotted onto the field with a 22-yard attempt to tie the game at 20.  Instead, Coach Tomlin called for a fake.  The holder, Drew Butler, took the snap and blindly flipped to Suisham to get at least one yard for a first down.  New York CB Michael Coe stayed at home and upended Suisham well short of the first down.  Tomlin assumed responsibility for the call after the game, “I took a shot and the guys backed my play like I knew they would and I appreciate that,” Tomlin said. “They overcome bad coaching decisions sometimes and that’s on me.”

The Aftermath of Sandy

All of America feels for those who were so profoundly affected by Hurricane Sandy, specifically those in New York and New Jersey, who received the brunt of the damage.  As is always the case, New Yorkers stood proud and stayed loud in their bravado.  We salute you for standing tall in this time of crisis.  While Pittsburgh may have ousted the Giants in this football contest, we are right there with you every step of the way.  Please consider donating to those who need assistance at www.redcross.org

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