The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the New York Giants 24-20 Sunday and below are my second half notes from the game. Here are my first half notes if you missed them.
Chris Rainey gets the second half started with a great return that is keyed by a double team block made by Cameron Heyward and Leonard Pope. Unfortunately the offense goes three and out as Ben Roethlisberger is sacked on third down. It certainly appeared to be a coverage sack. Drew Butler does a nice job of pinning the Giants inside their own 10 with the punt.
The Giants don\’t stay pinned back long as Eli Manning hits Martellus Bennett for an explosive play against a cover-1 defense. On the play, LaMarr Woodley fails to get a good jam on Bennett, who then runs right past Larry Foote for the easy catch. Manning did a nice job of looking off Ryan Clark, the deep safety, on the play. Manning later fails to connect with Victor Cruz on a third down as it looked like the receiver heard footsteps. Could the earlier hit by Clark still have been in his head? I think so. The Giants are forced to settle for a long field goal and now have a 7 point lead with over 8 minutes left to go in the third quarter.
Pope is called for a blind-side block on the ensuing kickoff so the Steelers offense starts their next drive deep in their own end. The drive doesn\’t last long as Roethlisberger forces the ball to Mike Wallace while feeling pressure from behind and Corey Webster makes the easy interception. The play was really just a two man route as fullback Will Johnson had run a wheel route out to the right. Roethlisberger had about 3 yards or so that he could have gained had he tucked it and escaped out to the left.
On the ensuing second down play, Cruz catches a quick slant for first down yardage but runs backwards trying to escape oncoming tacklers. Ike Taylor gets him down short of the first down but a bad spot forces the Steelers to use a challenge. It doesn\’t matter as Andre Brown easily picks up the first down off right guard. Hakeem Nicks moves the chains again after giving Keenan Lewis a good stiff arm to the face. On second down Clark comes up to make a nice stop on on a run to the left. Taylor is also there to help. On third down Manning attempts to hit Rueben Randle on a fade route to the left corner of the end zone but Lewis has good coverage on the play. A better throw might have resulted in a touchdown as Randle did have just enough separation. The Giants are forced to kick another field goal as a result and build their lead to 10 points with just under 2 minutes left to go in the third quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff is when Chris Rainey is injured. It really doesn\’t look like he took a hard shot and he got up right after it to go to the sideline. He didn\’t make it there, though, as he collapsed before making it off the field. On second down Roethlisberger hits Wallace for almost 15 yards to the left side in the soft area of the zone. On the third and five play Roethlisberger hits Wallace on a quick slant and the speedster does the rest as he is able to turn the far corner and shift into overdrive for the touchdown. This was the biggest play of the game and you got the sense that the Steelers now believed that they had weathered the storm, and now have a chance to win the game.
Cortez Allen is flagged for a facemask on the ensuing kickoff, but the Giants go three and out after Lawrence Timmons sacks Manning on third down after Woodley does a great job of providing pressure to the inside on what looked like Will-Lion stunt.
On the ensuing punt, Emmanuel Sanders almost takes it to the house but he cant beat Steve Weatherford the punter. Regardless, the tide has really shifted now as the offense has the ball well inside the red zone. Roethlisberger gets away with a forced ball to Heath Miller on second down and it sets up a third and one. Roethlisberger checks out of the original play to a quick dump off to Isaac Redman, who is stopped for no gain. Mike Tomlin will surely take the easy three points here on the road to tie the game, right? Nope, he runs the fake field goal and the Giants aren\’t fooled by it at all. I would have questioned the call had it even worked, but wouldn\’t have faulted him had he tried to run Redman on fourth instead. Too many moving parts on that fake for my liking.
The defense bails Tomlin out as the Giants go three and out. I didn\’t understand the Giants need to go deep on second down, but Lewis was there nonetheless with great coverage on Nicks down the left sideline. On third down Clark makes a great open field tackle on Bennett to effectively stall the drive.
The ensuing punt gives the Steelers the ball back near midfield. On first down Redman earns his toughest three or four yards of the game as he is pinned in on the right but breaks tackles to reverse back to the middle of the field. Roethlisberger hits Miller on an underneath shallow cross for the first down and the offense is back in business. A few plays later Roethlisberger hits Jerricho Cotchery on the right side stem route for another first down. Johnson can\’t hold on to the second down pass and it sets up a key third down as a result. A gutsy draw call to Redman comes up short, but the Giants are flagged for lining up in the neutral zone. that was a big, big penalty on them. On the third and short play Redman goes backside for the first down. It was a great power run by the running back. Two plays later Redman scores on the counter to the right and Johnson has a great block to make it happen. The Steelers now have a 4 point lead with just over 4 minutes remaining in the game.
The Giants go three and out again because of great pressure by both Woodley and Timmons on second down and Woodley again on third down, which results in a sack fumble. James Harrison fails at scooping it up and the Giants recover it before punting.
After two running plays go nowhere, the Steelers offense is faced with a crucial third down and nine. Roethlisberger hits Sanders on what looks like a read option route and the Steelers convert. Redman ices the game on the very next play as he reads the double team block of Ramon Foster and Mike Adams on his way to breaking inside tackles for an explosive 20 plus yard run. The Steelers win.