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Steelers win third straight with 24-14 win over Giants

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Ben Roethlisberger passed for 289 yards and two touchdowns, Le'Veon Bell rolled up 182 yards of total offense, and Pittsburgh's resurgent defense harassed Eli Manning into a flurry of mistakes in a dominant 24-14 win on Sunday.

Pittsburgh manhandled the visiting New York Giants 24-14 on Sunday at a raucous Heinz Field in a game that was not even as close as the final score indicated. The Steelers kept pace in the AFC North with the Baltimore Ravens, who won big against Miami earlier in the day.

“This was a big team effort for us against a very good football team, winners of six in a row,” Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin said. “I think we’re finding our rhythm. The young guys are growing up. They’re playing harder and faster. That produces the atmosphere where big things happen for us.”

The game began as a see-saw event with both teams fighting for field position. Midway in the first quarter, the Giants (8-4) were backed up on their own 5 yard line following an offensive interference penalty on Odell Beckham Jr. which could have gone either way.

“I’m not saying we lost because of the officials. [The Steelers] were the better team today,” Beckham Jr. said. “He tried to stop my progress and I wasn’t allowed to put my hands on him. You can watch the film and see it for yourself.”

Eli Manning dropped back into the end zone looking for a receiver. As James Harrison bull-rushed him, his head was put into a vice grip by offensive lineman. Because the holding call was in the end zone, the Steelers (7-5) were awarded a safety and took a 2-0 lead. It was the first safety for the Steelers since Oct. 26, 2014, which was against the Colts.

On the ensuing possession, Roethlisberger found Ladarius Green sprinting down the right sideline all alone after the cornerback released him and the safety failed to roll over into coverage. His 38 yard gain gave the Steelers a first down at the 24 yard line. They could not move any further, but emergency replacement kicker Randy Bullock booted a 44 yard field goal to push the Steelers’ lead to a strange 5-0 with 4 seconds left in the first quarter.

New York was driving after converting two straight third-down-and-five’s to sustain a 10-play, drive that took almost 7 minutes and advanced to the Steeler 9 yard line.

PLAY of the GAME
Manning thought he had an open receiver in the end zone, but Lawrence Timmons dropped back into coverage, reached up, and grabbed the interception and took off. He returned the ball 58 yards to the Giants 40 yard line.

“That was a big play for us. It was the biggest play up to that point,” Tomlin said. “That’s what December football’s about. It’s making those signature plays and that was a big one.”

The drive set the table for a 3 play touchdown drive.

CATCH of the DAY
Roethlisberger scrambled and threw the ball to a covered Antonio Brown in the back of the end zone. Brown made an acrobatic catch and was being pushed out by the defender as he fell. He got one foot in bounds, but his elbow touched down in the end zone for the score before he was pushed out of bounds. The Steelers failed on the two point conversion and their lead stood at 11-0.

In the last minute of the first half, the Steelers drove 64 yards which was just far enough to get in range for another Bullock field goal. He booted it through for a 34 yard field goal to give Pittsburgh a 14-0 lead at the half.

The Giants went for it on fourth and one from the Steeler 3 yard line on their first possession in the third quarter. Ryan Shazier batted it down to snuff out the Giants’ best scoring attempt of the day and the Steelers took over on downs.
On the ensuing drive, the Giants’ Jonathan Casilias stripped the ball on a Le’Veon Bell run up the middle and Eli Apple recovered the fumble to give the Giants the ball on the Steelers’ 17 yard line. Two plays later, Manning completed a screen pass for a 13 yard touchdown to Jennings. The Giants broke the scoreboard for the first time on the play and closed the gap 14-7 with 6:30 left in the third quarter.Steelers Ladarius Green

Green caught a 20-yard touchdown to cap an 88-yard drive late in the third quarter and give the Steelers a 21-7 lead. His 33 yard catch to the 44 yard line when the Steelers had first and ten from their own 12 was a key play in the scoring drive. Green caught six passes for 110 yards and a touchdown to earn PLAYER of the GAME honors.

In the last minute of the third quarter, Eli Apple intercepted a Roethlisberger pass on the Giants 47 yard line.

The Giants went for it on fourth and 13 on the drive with 11:23 left in the game and trailing by 14 points. Manning flung the ball toward the end zone but Sean Davis picked the ball off (his first career interception) at the 6 yard line.

The Steelers were forced to punt on the drive and the Giants took over at midfield. With 7 minutes left in the fourth quarter the Giants went for it on fourth down for the third time in the game. This time it was fourth and ten at the Steelers 25 yard line.

If the Giants would have scored a touchdown, they would have pulled back into the game, but Ricardo Matthews sacked Manning on the play for an 8-yard loss to snuff out another Giant’s scoring try and dropping them to 0-for-3 on fourth down attempts. Tomlin felt the crucial stops were big in the win.

“They went for it, so we had to defend the grass. [Pittsburgh’s defense] made the necessary plays in all instances,” Tomlin said. “It was a combination of rush and coverage. To win those moments, you need both.”

The Giants scored a late touchdown but it was too little, too late. The Steelers return to action next Sunday at Buffalo. 

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