The Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Giants are set to face off shortly, with the Steelers coming in knowing that the Ravens are very likely to have won. As of this writing, they are working with a 25-point lead in the fourth quarter, so Pittsburgh will be looking to stay even in the division today with a win.
The Steelers’ Killer Bs have been playing well recently. Ben Roethlisberger has looked good in recent weeks since coming off his knee injury, and has not thrown an interception in three consecutive games, with six touchdown passes in that span. He has been sacked once. Antonio Brown has three touchdowns as well, and Le’Veon Bell has four, including three on the ground.
The defense has picked up the pace a bit recently, with 11 sacks in their last two games, as well as some turnovers and goal-line stands to boot. They have also held each of their past two opponents to under 10 points. But the Giants pose a more formidable challenge.
Steelers Inactive Players:
QB Zach Mettenberger
T Brian Mihalik
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
RB DeAngelo Williams
TE Xavier Grimble
RB Daryl Richardson
K Chris Boswell
Giants Inactive Players
S Nat Berhe
LB Mark Herzlich
DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa
G Justin Pugh
QB Josh Johnson
WR Tavarres King
G Adam Gettis
There is not much surprise here on either side. While there was early optimism that Chris Boswell might play today, the Steelers signed a kicker yesterday, so this was obviously a possibility. The biggest surprise is that Adam Gettis is not dressed for the game, but Marshall Newhouse is, which means he should be starting at left guard for Justin Pugh.
Bonus coverage while we wait: the Dolphins are well and truly getting their butts kicked at the moment by the Ravens, who now lead 38-6. The most the Ravens had ever scored before in this season was 28. The Dolphins had never scored only six points before, though they did score just seven points once, on the road on a short week against the Bengals. The most they had given up was 31 points prior to this game. So yeah, this wasn’t how it was supposed to play out.
The Steelers took the field first on offense after a touchback. Starting out with a screen for eight yards to Le’Veon Bell, a second and two play resulted in a three-yard run from Bell, who picked up extra yardage with a patient run. After being limited to two trying to cut back up the middle on the following play, He got the handoff yet again for three yards, which set up a third and five. A quick-hitter went to Antonio Brown with two tight end out to block for six yards to move the sticks.
Roethlisberger under duress had to check down to Bell on the following play, but the back was able to pick up nine yards. From the Giants’ side now, a high snap led to an errant pass on a screen to Brown, which set up an incompletion. On third and one, Roethlisberger looked to the flat for Jesse James, who dropped the ball. That forced the Steelers to punt, which went out of bounds at the 15.
James Harrison and Anthony Chickillo started the game for Pittsburgh. Rashard Jennings was limited to three yards on first down. Artie Burns came up to make the tackle on a screen to the right for a loss of one. Harrison nearly got to Eli Manning on third and long, but he got the ball out to his back, with Jennings picking up 21 instead. Big swing play. From the 37, Lawrence Timmons wrapped him up from behind after a gain of two. A screen to Jenning added for to set up third and four. Manning looked deep to his tight end on third down, with William Gay in coverage, incomplete. Brad Wing‘s punt went for a touchback.
From the 20, Roethlisberger gave James a chance to redeem himself, lined up wide as a receiver, getting the pass for a first down and a gain of 15. Showing an end around, Bell was actually dropped for no gain on a run on the following play. After a false start, Bell got a screen pass for 21 yards with James and David DeCastro blocking downfield.
A first-down run was negated by a holding call on David Johnson. On first and 20 now, Roethlisberger checked down to Bell, but he could not hold on to the ball, dropping it for his fourth of hte year. Brown was able to add eight to set up third and 12. A short pass for Eli Rogers was broken up over the middle, but that would have been well short of the first anyway. Another punt from midfield was the result, fielded for a fair catch inside the 10.
With Bud Dupree checking in, Manning looked deep on first down for Odell Beckham, Jr., but he was flagged for offensive pass interference. Now first and 14, Harrison was lurking behind Manning in the end zone, but the pass was fired out, incomplete. The defense made the stop on the ground on second down with Sean Davis registering the tackle. On third and 14, Beckham beat Timmons for a first down, but Ereck Flowers was called for a hold on Harrison in the end zone, which resulted in a safety.
The safety gave the Steelers a 2-0 lead after the offense was forced to punt on their first two drives. The safety kick from the 25 was fielded by Brown, who was able to return it to the 36-yard line.
Still trying to work up the middle, Bell looked to pick up about three yards. Ladarius Green was open, but dropped the pass, the third drop of the game for the Steelers offense. On third and seven, however, Roethlisberger bought time and heaved the ball back to Green, who caught it with room to run, down to the 24. Bell was dropped for a loss on the following play. On second and 11, Bell got the handoff looking to throw, but after seeing nothing open, he threw the ball away. On third and 11, Cobi Hamilton was tackled on a screen for a loss one, so the Steelers went backward after the big gain. Randy Bullock was good from 44 to give the Steelers a 5-0 lead. So that’s a sigh of relief.
Bullock’s kickoff was fielded with a running start and returned out beyond to the 29. Sterling Shepard made the catch for 10 yards, but Burns was there to quickly wrap him up. Jennings picked up five yards up the middle on the following play. Ryan Shazier drew an encroachment, and then Cockrell was flagged for a pass interference. With the ball now on the Steelers’ 41, Manning checked down to Jennings, but Shazier cut him down after a short gain. Gay was quick on the tackle of Shepard on second down after a short gain. On third and five, a draw handoff to Jennings actually picked up six to get a first down.
Davis came up to drop Jennings for a loss of one on the following play from the 30. A big completion was negated by another hold, this on John Jerry, pushing them back to the 41. On second and 21, Manning hit Will Tye left wide open in the middle of the field for 16 yards, with Davis on the tackle. On third and five, Manning completed to Beckham for 10 to the 15, inside the red zone.
Manning to Tye added six yards on first down. Timmons, however, was able to step in front of a pass intended for Larry Donnell, who was able to elevate for the pick, and he returned it to the Giants’ 40-yard line for a 58-yard return, producing a dramatic swing in momentum with the Giants just knocking on the door of scoring.
Going five wide, James made his second catch of the game for a first down after dropping his first target, putting Pittsburgh inside the 30. From the 29, Bell was able to get to the left side to pick up seven yards on the ground. Roethlisberger stepped up in the pocket and attacked the end zone for Brown, who leaped to make the touchdown, his 11th of the season. The touchdown ties a franchise record with 49 touchdown receptions between Brown and Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger, however, threw too wide on the two-point conversion attempt for Brown in the far left corner of the end zone, making it a 11-0 game.
Bullock’s second kickoff actually went for a touchback. Manning’s first pass was on a quick slant that was not completed. On second down, the handoff to Perkins managed to pick up six on a draw up the middle. On third and four, Manning panicked and threw low to an open receiver for what could have been a first down, so the Giants went three and out. Wing punted to Brown, with a fair catch at the 29. Fitzgerald Toussaint was called for a hold, however, pushing them back 10 yards.
From the 20, play action turned to what was setting up for a screen to Johnson, but the pass was not in target. Showing run look all the way, the Steelers were able to pound up the middle for about eight. Johnathan Hankins left the game with a thigh injury, it should be noted. Javon Hargrave is also being evaluated for a concussion. Roethlisberger fired a hot pass to Green for the conversion.
From the 36, Bell found room for about four yards on the right side. Roethlisberger looked for Green over the middle, but Landon Collins was all over him to force an incompletion. He found Hamilton at the left sideline for the first down. Across midfield, Bell spun out of a tackle over the middle on a short reception to pick up seven yards. A short screen to Brown moved the sticks. Bell got swallowed up up the middle after a short gain to hit the two-minute warning. He only got to the line of scrimmage to set up third and seven. The Giants used their first timeout to stop the clock. Roethlisberger found Eli Rogers for the first down, but the play was negated by an offensive pass interference penalty on Green. Now on third and 17 from the 42, a screen to Rogers…well, it ended up picking up the first down for 18 yards. Jason Pierre-Paul stayed down after the play and ultimately walked off the field “gingerly”.
From the 24, Roethlisberger took a coverage sack, his first sack in three games. On second and 17 after the loss of seven, an inside screen to Green picked up just a single yard to the 30. On third and 16, a screen to Bell was able to get 14, making it fourth and two. After letting the clock run down, Bullock his on his second field goal of the game, making it a 14-0 score with under 30 seconds to play in the half.
Bullock’s kick was returned, but they did not reach the 20. Shamarko Thomas took a hit to the head on the return. The Giants took a knee to get into the half. They start the third quarter with possession.