STEELERS 24, GIANTS 20Steelers' record:5-3One year ago:6-2Series record (including playoffs):** Giants lead, 46-30-3
STORYLINETo Coach Mike Tomlin, the prospect of traveling to play the defending champion New York Giants: "That is varsity football, as we say in our business." For the Steelers, varsity football would provide them with a measuring stick at the midway point of their schedule, but it also was a difficult way to stay one-game behind the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North.TURNING POINTIt didn't look like much at the time, but a dump-off pass to Mike Wallace turned into a 51-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter that closed the gap to 20-17 and gave the Steelers a jolt of momentum at a time they needed it.STAT THAT STANDS OUTWith one minute left in the first half, the Giants held a 14-7 lead over the Steelers, and to that point they had managed 86 yards of offense. To that point, Keenan Lewis had been flagged for two pass interference penalties that totaled 87 yards.WHAT WENT RIGHTAfter forcing the Giants to punt on their opening possession and taking over at their 2-yard line, the Steelers opened in a two-tight-end, two-running-back set. Isaac Redman took the handoff and gained 11 yards off the left side of the line.On the first play of each of the Giants' opening two offensive possessions, Eli Manning tried to get the ball to WR Hakeem Nicks. On both occasions, Keenan Lewis broke up the passes. Two plays later, Lewis broke up his third pass – on a third-and-5 – and the Giants punted for the second time.The cornerbacks continued to play solid football into the Giants' third offensive series. With Steve McLendon pressuring Eli Manning, Ike Taylor was able to step in front of Victor Cruz on a deep sideline throw and make the interception at the Pittsburgh 42-yard line. It was the first interception by a Steelers cornerback this season, and the fourth for the team.On the Steelers' first touchdown drive, which was set up by Ike Taylor's interception, Isaac Redman carried six times for 34 yards on a drive that covered 58 yards on 11 plays. The touchdown came on a pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Emmanuel Sanders, who went high for the ball and came down with both feet inbounds along the back of the end zone.On his first three kickoff returns of the game, Chris Rainey had 149 yards, including a long of 68, and none of them were nullified by penalties.After the Ben Roethlisberger interception gave the Giants the ball at the Pittsburgh 33-yard line, the Steelers defense stiffened by allowing 28 yards on nine plays to force a Lawrence Tynes field goal that made the score, 20-10.It was a third-and-5 at the Pittsburgh 49-yard line when Ben Roethlisberger dumped the ball over the middle to Mike Wallace, who caught the ball about 3 yards beyond the line of scrimmage and out-flanked the Giants defense and got down the left sideline for a 51-ytard touchdown that made the score, 20-17.
On the Giants' possession following Wallace's touchdown, Casey Hampton stuffed a second down running play, and then Lawrence Timmons sacked Eli Manning on third down to force a punt. Emmanuel Sanders returned the punt 63 yards to the New York 12-yard line.After the failed fake field goal, the defense pitched a three-and-out, with Ryan Clark making a tackle in the open field on a third down pass to Martellus Bennett.WHAT WENT WRONGOn a first-and-10 from the 30-yard line on the Steelers' first series, Justin Tuck beat Mike Adams to the inside to sack Ben Roethlisberger for a 9-yard loss. Two plays later, the Steelers punted for the first time in the game.The Steelers got robbed of at least 7 yards on the Giants second punt. Apparently not paying attention to where the ball went out of bounds, side judge Keith Parham spotted it at the 22-yard line when it should have been closer to the 29-yard line.The Giants tied the game, 7-7, 2:51 after the Steelers had taken the lead, and they got more than a little help from the striped shirts in doing so. Keenan Lewis was flagged for a 41-yard pass interference penalty to get the Giants into Steelers territory. Then on a third-and-goal at the 2-yard line, Ike Taylor broke up a pass for Victor Cruz, but Ryan Clark was flagged for an after-the-play hit to the head, which gave the Giants a first down at the 1-yard line. Former NFL Director of Officiating Mike Pereira, now an analyst for FOX, said the hit was neither late nor illegal.A couple of plays into the ensuing possession, Osi Umenyiora was credited with a sack/strip of Ben Roethlisberger that Michael Boley scooped up and returned 70 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 Giants lead. Again, from Mike Pereria, "(Referee Bill) Leavy felt ball was loose after contact by Osi. Very tight play. I think he still had control. In my opinion it was an incomplete pass."The Giants recorded three sacks in the first half – one each for Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul – and rookie Mike Adams was victimized on two of them.The interception Roethlisberger threw to Corey Webster was forced into coverage on a ball intended for Mike Wallace.With 14 minutes left in the game, each team had been penalized five times. The Steelers' five penalties were assessed 109 yards; the Giants' five were assessed 25 yards.On a fourth down situation where they needed less than a yard from the Giants 3-yard line, Mike Tomlin opted for a fake field goal, with holder Drew Butler flipping the ball over his head to Shaun Suisham, who then attempted to run around right end. Cornerback Michael Coe tackled Suisham for a 1-yard loss, and the Giants took over at the 4-yard line, with a 20-17 lead and 10:30 remaining in the game.