Miller's Open ... Among Others

Mike Prisuta watched the New York Giants barely hang on to beat the Dallas Cowboys and wonders if the Steelers will pass for 500 yards against them.

It wasn't the 18 balls hauled in by Cowboys tight end Jason Witten that raised serious questions about the New York Football Giants' ability to play pass defense.

Two snaps from last Sunday's escape at Dallas were all that was necessary to betray all that's wrong with the defending champions' secondary.

The first was a deep sideline throw to Dez Bryant on first-and-10 from the New York 45-yard line with 2:05 remaining and the Giants clinging to a 29-24 lead. The ball was overthrown, but that didn't stop free safety Antrel Rolle from launching and leading with his helmet toward an intended head shot on Bryant.

Had he connected Rolle would have been fined and perhaps suspended.

As it was, Rolle whiffed on the hit, hurt himself upon his descent to the Cowboys Stadium turf, and wound up leaving the game.

The other horrendous gaffe occurred with just 10 seconds remaining, on first-and-10 from the New York 37 with the Giants still leading by five.

Even though Dallas had no choice but to heave the ball into the end zone, cornerback Corey Webster still thought it a good idea to let Bryant get behind him in the end zone. And safety Michael Coe played the ball in support as if it were the first time he had attempted such a thing.

That was the last-second-game-winning-touchdown-that-wasn't after replay determined Bryant's knuckles had come down out of bounds.

As for Witten, he had taken turns making linebackers Keith Rivers and Michael Boley, safeties Stevie Brown and Rolle, and cornerback Prince Amukamara look silly while in the process of collecting those 18 receptions.

"Don't bet on it happening again this week," Heath Miller insisted.

In defense of the Giants' defense, New York hadn't allowed 300 yards passing in a game, let alone 415, prior to visiting Jerry Jones' Monument to Excess.

Then again, the Giants hadn't played an offense ranked higher than 14th in passing this week prior to its rematch against Dallas (the Giants also played the Cowboys in the NFL's regular-season opener).

Miller remains skeptical that New York's defensive performance in Dallas was anything but an aberration.

"When I see the film I see a great defense," Miller maintained. "They're turning the ball over. I think they have 24 turnovers through eight games. Their front four is probably easily the best in the league. It's going to be the best defense easily that we've played this year.

"They're the defending champs and there's a reason why they're the defending champs. We're going to have to play our best game."

Miller had a point about the Giants' NFL-leading 24 turnovers, six of which were at the Cowboys' expense on Sunday.

But the Steelers have a league-low six giveaways this season (tied with Houston), which begs the question:

What if the Steelers play their best game, as Miller contends they must?

Would Ben Roethlisberger finish with 500 yards passing?

Chances are that's not going to happen. But I'm not going to put winning in a shootout past the Steelers given the growing offensive momentum they've established of late and given what the Giants' defense has most recently put on tape.

And I think Miller has a much better shot at 19 receptions than even he suspects.


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