Being in the bottom half of the league’s rushing team isn’t something the Pittsburgh Steelers are used to. On Sunday, playing in New York against the Super Bowl champion Giants, they found out that their third option at running back, Isaac Redman, might be the player to bring them back on track when ti comes to the ground game.
For a second straight week, the New York Giants played badly, especially in the second half, but were facing a team that looked destined to lose due to turnovers and penalties, some of them borderline officiating mistakes. It didn’t matter. The Steelers got excellent field position time after time thanks to a great day on defense that eliminated the Giants’ running game (only 68 yards on 22 carries) while Eli Manning went through the worst game of the season (for a second straight week), completing only 10 of 24 for 125 yards and an interception.
Ben Roethlisberger struggled early on. Everyone struggles against the Giants’ front line, sacked four times buy Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora. But he pulled through the sacks, his fumble and thrown interception, which was one of the worst picks you’ll ever get to see, and pulled off a comeback from 10-20 down. First it was a pass to Mike Wallace, who showed extraordinary speed on a 51 yard touchdown play. Then it was setting up the game winner with 4:02 to go, as Isaac Redman, who finished with 147 yards on the day, ran it in for a 1 yard touchdown.
This is how the Steelers are supposed to look, sans the turnovers. Not a pass first team, but a team that pounds the ball and establishes the play action for Roethlisberger, who needs a game or two of feeling a bit less pressure on his shoulders and a bit less of punishment on his body, which has really taken a beating over the last 2.5 seasons. Finally managing to get a running game going, as Mike Tomlin celebrated his 60th win as the team’s head coach, is a good way to carry on their resurgence, improving to 5-3.
Another surprising output was special teams, and especially Emmanuel Sanders, who scored a touchdown off a four yard reception in the second quarter, but his biggest contribution was in the punt returns, taking three of them to 76 yards, including one for 63. Kick returner Chris Rainey also had a productive day with 173 yards on 5 kicks, including one for 68 yards. The Steelers and Roethlisberger didn’t have to work so hard to reach the end zone.
The Steelers didn’t need to inspire a city and a community ravaged by the Hurricane, unlike the Giants, who felt a different kind of pressure to win heading into the game. For the Steelers there were some day-trip problems, but that was negligible in comparison to what happened not too far away from where they were playing.
Redman: Coming in the day of the game was tough and we had to deal with that adversity. But the Giants had to deal with adversity all week. We just had to come in here and be ready to play. This shows we have a lot of heart. When you play for the Steelers, it’s all about heart.