The Pittsburgh Steelers enter the second half carrying a 14-0 lead over the New York Giants, and they have come by that score in a roundabout way. It started with a safety when James Harrison drew a holding call in the end zone. A pair of field goals bookmarked a 22-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown, but they went for a two-point conversion and did not convert.
The Giants were threatening to score prior to Brown’s touchdown while it was a 5-0 game, but, on a pass that looked at first to be a Giants touchdown, Lawrence Timmons, with underneath coverage on the targeted tight end, leaped and intercepted the pass at the two-yard line, returning it 58 yards to the Giants’ 40. Pittsburgh scored their lone touchdown off of that turnover.
The second half started off with a touchback. The first pass went to Odell Beckham, Jr. for a four-yard gain. Ross Cockrell broke up the second-down pass for Beckham. On third and six, Eli Manning turtled himself and gave himself up for a sack, credited to James Harrison. Sammie Coates was flagged for a facemask penalty working as a jammer on the punt. That put the offense back to the 23. And the Steelers opened up with a hold on first down.
Following the hold, on first and 20 and from 13, a poorly-executed screen to Brown went for a loss. On second and 21, a draw run for Bell up the middle went for four yards. Roethlisberger was off-target looking for Ladarius Green on third down. Jordan Berry‘s punt was marked out of bounds at the Giants’ 40-yard line.
Manning went to Beckham on the first play, running away from Cockrell for a gain of 23. From the 37, it was back to Beckham, for seven, with Artie Burns on the tackle. On second down, Perkins made a tackler miss in the hole and picked up 18 yards, probably one of the longest runs of the season for the Giants. Now at the 12, Manning could not find Beckham in the end zone. Burns was in coverage on a pass to the far left corner of the end zone, with Burns covering him. On third down, Manning hit Beckham for a nine-yard gain to set up fourth and one. Shazier was there to break up the pass for Will Tye at the goal line. Another goal-line-ish stand for the Steelers defense.
Bell was able to add two yards to the five to get some breathing room. Roethlisberger threw incomplete to Cobi Hamilton with Landon Collins closing on him at the catch point. On third and eight, Roethlisberger found Green for the first down, taking a hit as he caught it. From the 15, Bell got the carry, but lost the ball, his fourth fumble of the season. This is the first one that he lost.
With the ball at the 17, the Giants added four yards on the ground from Jennings. And on the second play of the drive, a screen to Jennings got 14 and the score, as New York quickly turned a red-zone turnover into seven points and cut the deficit in half.
A short kickoff return by Coates was halved by a hold, giving the Steelers terrible field position at the 12 to start the drive after losing a fumble and costing the Steelers seven points. But Roethlisberger heaved a long pass throught contact to Green, who bounced off one defender for 33 yards. Bell squeezed through a narrow crease for 11 yards on the next play. Damon Harrison came off the field on that play.
From the Giants’ 43, Bell added another four on the following play. Roethlisberger got Brown for 13 yards for the first down. After a short run from Bell to the 25, he got the check-down pass for five yards. On third and four, Roethlisberger found Green open and untouched into the end zone for 20 yards. It looked liked busted coverage on Collins. Green’s sixth reception gave up 110 yards for the game and his first score with the Steelers.
Sterling Shepard was the recipient of the first pass of the next drive for seven yards. Jennings caught the screen pass, but Cockrell read it perfectly and made the tackle for a loss of four yards. Mike Mitchell broke up the third-down pass in front of Beckham to force the Giants to punt. The Punt died at the 32 or so.
Alejandro Villanueva got schooled by Olivier Vernon for a sack and loss of 10 yards, however, to start the drive. On the following play, Roethlisberger looked downfield for Eli Rogers, but Eli Apple was able to wrestle the ball away for Roethlisberger’s first interception in four games. Eli on Eli crime.
From the Giants’ 47, a short pass to the tight end went for a first down across midfield in the waning moments of the third quarter. Perkins was stopped after a four-yard gain. He made a man miss to pick up five and set up third and one. A quick snap handoff to Perkins moved the sticks.
From the 32, this time, he was stopped by Harrison after two yards. On second and eight, Beckham lost yardage fighting for it, setting up third and eight. Flowers was flagged for a false start prior to the play. On third and 13, Mitchell broke up another pass intended for Beckham. On fourth and 13, Manning was flushed out to his right and threw across his body, with Sean Davis intercepting the pass. A penalty on the return, however, negated good yardage.
Because of the penalty, the Steelers started at their own three. They could have started at the 35 if Davis batted down the ball. A couple of tough runs by Bell got them out of their own goal-line shadow, however. He added another five on his third consecutive carry. He couldn’t get out on the edge on the next carry, so cut up for a couple. Apple did a great job of breaking up a play intended for Green, forcing a punt. The Steelers had too many men on the field on the punt.
Taking over at the 50, Manning hit Beckham for 25 yards, with Shazier missing a chase-down tackle. Another pass to Beckham yielded only one yard. The next one went off his hands on a hard throw that was a little high. On third and nine, Manning was incomplete, but Mitchell was nearly flagged for a huge personal. It’s fourth and nine from the 24, instead first and 10 from the 12. On the fourth-down play, Manning was sacked well behind the line of scrimmage by Ricardo Mathews for a loss of eight, his first sack with the Steelers.
Taking over at the 32, Bell was only able to pick up a couple off the left edge. He broke through a 19-yard rush on the following play, now at 96 rushing yards and 160 total yards. Off the right side, Bell got a 12-yard carry to go over 100 yards on the ground. After a pair of three-yard carries, Bell was stopped for no gain. The Steelers faced a fourth and three from the Giants’ 28 with under three minutes to play. They elected to go for it to close out the game. On the play, a quick pass and basket catch from Jesse James got the conversion, running down to the two-minute warning.
Bell looked like he went down awkward on his left knee, and Ramon Foster threw a Giants player on the ground. They used a timeout after the play. But the Steelers left him in the game and gave him the ball again to pick up a yard or two at a time. Roethlisberger used play-action to try to get Green in the end zone, but he overthrew the ball. Randy Bullock was trotted out to try his third field goal of the game, which was good, taking a 24-7 lead.
Bullock’s final kickoff was short, but the Giants were able to get a good return almost out to midfield. Manning’s pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage, but Stephon Tuitt was flagged for throwing Jerry down. He was the second guy, and they usually get the second guy. Now from the 37, Beckham crossed Shazier up down the field for a good gain, but gave himself to keep it moving. Another short pass went for eight, and then Manning went back to Beckham to set up first and goal.
From the eight, Mitchell drew a pass interference working on Beckham in the end zone, setting up first and goal from the one. The Giants ran a great play from the one to hit Shepard in the right corner of the end zone to make the final score look more respectable than it should be, 24-14.
Hamilton recovered the onside kick to seal this one. The Steelers advance to 7-5 and keep pace with the Ravens, who face the Patriots and Foxboro next week. Pittsburgh heads to Buffalo to face the Bills.