X's and O's

Here is a breakdown, by unit, of how the Giants performed against the Steelers.


Eli Manning perfectly lofted a pass where only WR Amani Toomer could catch it, between CB William Gay and SS Tyrone Carter, for a 30-yard reception on fourth-and-6 from Pittsburgh's 34 in the fourth quarter. The throw atoned for Manning inexplicably calling a second straight timeout on the previous play, which backed the Giants out of a fourth-and-1 situation. K John Carney's 24-yard FG three plays later cut Pittsburgh's lead to 14-12, with 8:18 to play. Bottom Line: Manning made timely throws and didn't turn the ball over.


RB Derrick Ward's 15-yard run on third-and-9 early in the third quarter, which would've been the Giants' longest ground gain of the game, was negated due to a debatable holding call against TE Kevin Boss. RB Brandon Jacobs' unforced fumble after Manning's clean handoff cost the Giants 4 yards and a down on a first-and-goal play from Pittsburgh's 9 midway through the first quarter. RT Kareem McKenzie recovered it, but the Giants settled for the first of four FGs by Carney three plays later. Bottom Line: The Steelers limited Jacobs and Ward to a 2.7-yard average on 31 combined carries.


WR Steve Smith's double move early in his route allowed him to shake RCB Deshea Townsend, get open down the middle of the field and make an important 25-yard reception on a third-and-7 play from midfield. Smith's catch, with just over five minutes to go in the game, prevented a punt on what emerged as the game-winning drive. TE Kevin Boss stopped his momentum quickly, changed direction and slipped LILB James Farrior to turn up field for a 16-yard catch on a critical third-and-9 play from the Giants' 46 early in the fourth quarter. Carney's 24-yard FG cut Pittsburgh's lead to 14-12 eight plays later. Bottom Line: Five of them made crucial catches.


LT David Diehl, LG Rich Seubert, C Shaun O'Hara, RG Chris Snee and McKenzie completely neutralized Pittsburgh's intimidating pass rush. Manning was not officially hurried in the game, much less sacked. And Diehl's inconsequential false start late in the third quarter was their lone penalty. Bottom Line: This is game film they'll treasure.


RDE Mathias Kiwanuka's 5-yard sack of QB Ben Roethlisberger essentially ended the game, as it backed Pittsburgh into a fourth-and-15 predicament from their own 5 late in the fourth quarter. Kiwanuka also dropped Roethlisberger for a 9-yard sack on a third-and-2 play from the Giants' 36, which forced Pittsburgh to punt just before halftime. Bottom Line: They were credited with five sacks and four hurries.


WLB Bryan Kehl was alert and in perfect position at the Giants' 39 to intercept a Roethlisberger pass SS James Butler blasted out of the hands of WR Nate Washington. Kehl returned the pick 17 yards around the midway mark of the second quarter and Carney's 25-yard FG put the Giants ahead 9-7 on their ensuing drive. Bottom Line: MLB Antonio Pierce recorded seven tackles and forced a fumble in his return.


Butler looked lost after Washington caught a Roethlisberger pass at the Giants' 24 around the 10-minute mark of the third quarter. Bulter turned the wrong way a total of three times before and after Washington's 65-yard touchdown catch that helped put Pittsburgh ahead 14-9. Rookie FS Kenny Phillips probably had enough time to back off before blasting RB Mewelde Moore, who dropped a Roethlisberger pass with nine minutes to go in the second quarter. The 15-yard personal foul on Phillips prevented Pittsburgh from settling for a punt. Bottom Line: They recorded three of the Giants' four interceptions.


P Jeff Feagles got great hang time on a 24-yard punt that Moore had to fair catch at Pittsburgh's 10, with just 1:48 remaining in the game. SS Sammy Knight's block near Pittsburgh's 45 helped spring PR Domenik Hixon for a 28-yard return that enabled the Giants to start a drive at the Steelers' 19 early in the second quarter. Carney's 35-yard FG four plays later got the Giants within one point (7-6). Bottom Line: These units were all successful.


Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride's play-action call on second-and-goal from Pittsburgh's 2 left Boss wide open in the end zone for what emerged as the game-winning touchdown catch at the 3:11 mark of the fourth quarter. You couldn't fault head coach Tom Coughlin for challenging Pittsburgh's fourth-and-goal stop of Jacobs early in the second quarter. The failed challenge was worth risking a timeout because the Giants turned the ball over on downs. Bottom Line: They found a way to beat a 5-1 team on the road.

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