The Giants lost mostly because their offense, underwhelming most of the season, simply wasn’t very good.
The Giants’ only touchdown came after Eli Apple recovered a Le’Veon Bell fumble at the Pittsburgh 17-yard line, giving the Giants a short field to work with.
The Giants went 0-for-3 on fourth-down conversion attempts, including a fourth-and-1 at the Steelers’ 2-yard line.
Eli to Odell ... and that’s it
The Giants’ offense became Eli Manning to Odell Beckham, and pretty much nothing else. Beckham caught 10 passes in 16 targets for 105 yards.
Nobody else did much
Paul Perkins had a couple of nice runs and finished with 38 yards on 7 carries (5.4 yards per carry), and Rashad Jennings went 13 yards for a touchdown on a screen pass. That was it.
Manning, under duress thanks to a leaky offensive line, completed 24-of-39 for 195 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He was sacked twice and consistently forced to simply dump the ball off.
Victor Cruz was never targeted.
In the second half, four New York possessions began between their own 40-yard line and midfield. The Giants’ only score on those was a meaningless 1-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Sterling Shepard in the closing seconds.
The Giants finished with just 234 yards of total offense. They possessed the ball for only 25:52.
"We are who we are right now. We need to go back to work. You can't just flip a switch and have things change." - Coach McAdoo— New York Giants (@Giants) December 5, 2016
Don’t blame the defense
Le’Veon Bell ran 29 times for 118 yards, Ben Roethlisberger completed 24-of-36 passes for 289 yards and two scores, and tight end LaDarius Green caught six passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. It is impossible to pin this loss on the defense, though. The defense forced two turnovers, an interception and a fumble recovery both by Eli Apple, and gave the Giants a chance. The offense, however, could not take advantage.
The Giants trailed 14-0 at halftime on the unusual combination of a safety, two Randy Bullock field goals and a Pittsburgh touchdown that was followed by a failed two-point conversion attempt.
Bullock, who kicked in Week 1 for the Giants, went 3-for-3 in field goals for Pittsburgh.
The Giants did get within seven in the second half, but could get no closer than that.
Moments That Mattered
Poor offensive line play: The Steelers got a safety for a 2-0 first-quarter lead when Ereck Flowers was called for holding in the end zone. There was lots of consternation about a pass interference call against Odell Beckham Jr. that pushed the Giants back inside the 5-yard line. To me, that looked like the proper call as Beckham appeared to push cornerback Ross Cockrell. It was surprising, though, because it’s something Beckham usually gets away with.
The offensive line play was poor throughout. Manning was sacked twice and was constantly dumping the ball off to avoid pressure. A John Jerry holding penalty wiped out a second-quarter completion to Sterling Shepard that would have given the Giants a first-and-goal at the Pittsburgh 10-yard line.
Red-zone INT: Of course something bad would happen when the Giants put Larry Donnell in the game. With second-and four at the Steelers’ 9-yard line the Giants inserted Donnell, who hadn’t played in weeks, lined him up in the slot and tried to throw to him. Of course, Pittsburgh linebacker Lawrence Timmons came up with a leaping interception at the goal line. A 58-yard return led to a 22-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown. Thus, what could have been a 7-5 Giants’ lead turned into an 11-0 second-quarter deficit.
Fourth-down flop: Trailing 14-0 and badly needing a touchdown, the Giants went for it on 4th-and-1 from the Pittsburgh 2-yard line with 8:58 left in the third quarter. Will Tye couldn’t hold onto a Manning pass at the goal line, and Pittsburgh took over. The Giants ended up 0-for-3 on fourth-down attempts, but the other two were long desperation ones in the fourth quarter.
Thank you, Le’Veon: After the Giants’ fourth-down failure, Steelers’ running back Le’Veon Bell fumbled when hit by Damon Harrison and Jonathan Casillas. Eli Apple recovered at the Pittsburgh 17-yard line, and two plays later the Giants got on the board with a 13-yard screen pass to Rashad Jennings. That pulled the Giants within 14-7 with 6:37 left in the third quarter.
Two more for OV: Olivier Vernon had two sacks, making it five straight games in which he has had at least one. Vernon now has eight sacks on the season.
Injuries pile up: Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who had 5.5 sacks in the two previous games, left in the second quarter with a groin injury. Johnathan Hankins also left with a thigh injury, but returned in the second half. (Full story)
The Giants host the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys in a Sunday Night Football show down. The Giants, of course, handed the 11-1 Cowboys their only loss of the season with a 20-19 Week 1 victory. With the Giants’ loss Sunday, and Dallas clinching a playoff berth due to the Washington Redskins’ 31-23 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, that game has lost some of its meaning.