It wasn’t just the New York Giants’ six-game winning streak that was snapped, it was their credibility as a Super Bowl contender; their manhood was taken away.
The Giants were exposed as frauds in their 24-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at Heinz Field.
There’s no doubt the Giants wanted to use this game as a platform to show that they are a Super Bowl contender, coming in with an 8-3 record. They looked at this game as a preparation for the Dallas Cowboys matchup in Week 14 at New Meadowlands. They came out with something to prove.
Instead, they have to wonder how good they really are, sitting pretty at 8-4.
Success can be fleeting. A team that can go from top of the world to having doubts about themselves quickly. A loss can make anyone fragile and fans panicking.
Sure, it’s only one game, but no one can deny the Giants’ six-game winning streak came from beating awful teams. They weren’t playing the Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals, Chicago Bears or Cleveland Browns yesterday, they were playing a NFC North contender who plays well in December. They faced a team that could be a Super Bowl contender in their own right.
The Giants didn’t get it done in a game that mattered tremendously. Their offense was out of sync, their defense gave up big plays when it mattered the most and they were beaten up down the trenches.
The Giants’ best offensive players did not play like their best offensive players. That was an indictment on Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. They didn’t lead when it was time.
Manning did not and could not make anything happen last night. He could not get the Giants to score in the red zone. He threw two interceptions that turned out to be momentum-killing. He could not complete a deep pass to his wide receiver when he had his wide receiver wide open. He could not find a way to throw to Victor Cruz, who let it be known after the game that he wasn’t happy about not getting the ball.
With 2nd and 4 on the Steelers’ nine-yard line and the Steelers leading 11-0, Manning threw an interception to Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons in the second quarter. That was a pass that was intended for Giants tight end Larry Donnell. Donnell had no chances of catching it since it was under thrown. It resulted in a complete shift in the game.
The Giants were starting to move the ball on the Steelers defense. Manning was getting into a groove. For him to throw a pick, it gave the Steelers confidence. The Steelers responded by ex-Giant kicker Randy Bullock kicking the field goal to give them a 14-0 lead heading to the locker room at halftime.
Manning did it again in the fourth quarter. With the Steelers leading 21-7, he threw an interception on the Steelers’ 35 on fourth down. On fourth and 13, his pass to Sterling Shepard was intercepted by Sean Davis, who picked up his first career interception.
That interception basically meant game over for the Giants. There was not going to be another run by them the rest of the game that would have a significant impact.
Overall, Manning was 24-of-39 for 195 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions and a quarterback rating of 16.9. He was outplayed by his fellow 2004 NFL Draft class member Ben Roethlisberger, who completed 24-of-36 passes for 289 yards with two touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 71.6.
Beckham Jr. had nothing to be proud of in this game. He did not make big plays in a game that was seen nationally, despite being targeted 15 times in the second half alone. He came up small. He had 10 catches for 100 yards with no touchdown to show for it.
He was not mentioned much on the telecast. That’s what happens when he was not even a factor in the game.
When Manning threw the ball to Beckham Jr., he dropped it. He tried to get calls by saying a Steeler touched him. Maybe he should have tried harder rather than wait for the officials to bail him out.
Beckham Jr. did what he does best; complain when things don’t go his way. He ripped the officiating crew for not giving him calls after the game. He requested this particular clew not to referee any of the Giants games this year and beyond.
Good luck to that.
Their defense performed well statically, but they did not make big plays when it mattered. They could not get stops. They could not tackle at times.
The Giants raised more questions than answers after this game. Can this offense ever get on track? Can they beat elite teams?
Yes, the Giants beat the Cowboys in the season opener, but that was few months ago. That game will have nothing to do with what’s going to happen in the next game where Ezequiel Elliot and Dak Prescott are whole new animals.
The Cowboys have gotten better each week and each month. Prescott has played much better than Manning this season. This is a team that plays smart football. They are a disciplined team, who are already in the playoff picture, having clinched after a Washington loss yesterday.
No one can say the same about the Giants.
The Giants, Manning and Beckham Jr. had their chance to show their prowess yesterday, but they failed miserably.
The Giants are nothing more than a mediocre team at best. Beating bad teams does nothing good when they couldn’t come up big against the Steelers.
They will get a chance to redeem themselves against the Cowboys.
If they don’t get it done, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Giants collapse themselves out of the playoff picture.