Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers stroll past the New York Giants

By Alan Robinson, The Sports Xchange
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers stroll past the New York Giants
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) evades the tackle of New York Giants cornerback Eli Apple (24) in the fourth quarter of the Steelers 24-14 win at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on December 4, 2016. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

PITTSBURGH -- The New York Giants couldn't consistently keep Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers out of their end zone -- or, early in the game, find the right end zone themselves.

The result was a game of shifting momentum -- the Steelers, as usual, building theirs in December, the Giants losing theirs just before their biggest game of the season.


Roethlisberger, thriving again in a matchup of quarterbacks from the 2004 draft class, threw two touchdown passes and the Steelers took advantage of repeated early New York mistakes to end the Giants' six-game winning streak with a 24-14 victory Sunday.

Roethlisberger, the last of the three star quarterbacks drafted in the first round 12 years ago but arguably the best, found Antonio Brown for 22 yards and tight end Ladarius Green for 20 yards on scores while outplaying Eli Manning, who spent most of the first half backed up against his own end zone and threw two costly interceptions.


Roethlisberger said the touchdown to Brown required "total trust" because he risked an interception if the wide receiver didn't read the throw correctly.

"It's one of those plays that's kind of like a broken play and you step up and scramble ... (and) AB covered one-on-one, that's a tall task for a defender," Roethlisberger said.

The Steelers (7-5) won their third in a row after dropping four straight. They were aided by a first-quarter holding call in the end zone against Giants left tackle Ereck Flowers -- an automatic safety -- and an interception of Manning by linebacker Lawrence Timmons that helped Pittsburgh open a 14-0 lead at halftime.

"We were behind in field position (during the first half)," New York coach Ben McAdoo said. After that, he said, "it's (the offense's lack of) consistency. We need to play more consistent. We've got to take care of the ball better, that showed up again today."

Asked why the Giants still are searching for an offensive identity as they await next Sunday's game against NFC East leader Dallas (11-1), McAdoo said: "We are who we are. We need to go back to work. You just can't flip a switch."


Some Steelers fans at Heinz Field probably wondered who their kicker was.

Randy Bullock, who began the season with the Giants only to be cut after one game, made all three field-goal attempts -- of 44, 34 and 38 yards -- one day after signing with Pittsburgh. Starting kicker Chris Boswell, who injured his abdomen late in the practice week, warmed up before the game but was deactivated.

Manning, one of three 40,000-yard passers from that Class of 2004 that also includes San Diego's Philip Rivers, finally got the Giants (8-4) into the end zone in the third quarter. Le'Veon Bell's fumble led to Manning's 13-yard scoring pass to running back Rashad Jennings, making it 14-7. Manning ended 24 of 39 for 195 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Roethlisberger (24 of 36, 289 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) immediately matched that score by capping a seven-play, 88-yard drive ahead of his 33-yard scoring throw to Green, the former Chargers tight end who sat out the first half of the season following ankle surgery.

"I'm not close to where I thought I would be, but I'm getting closer," Green said.


Roethlisberger is 3-1 in head-to-head play against Manning.

The Giants, down 21-7, had a chance to get back into it late in the third quarter when Roethlisberger threw an interception to Eli Apple, the first of the 2016 first-round draft pick's career.

However, Manning was intercepted in turn by rookie safety Sean Davis -- the first interception of Davis' career -- and the Steelers wound down the clock mostly by handing off to Bell, the first 100-yard rusher against New York this season.

Bell finished with 118 yards on 29 carries and had six catches for 64 yards.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said his defense combined consistent pressure with "great coverage ... and you need that against a quarterback as savvy and as seasoned as Eli."

New York finally found the end zone again with 24 seconds to play on Manning's 1-yard toss to Sterling Shepard. Odell Beckham Jr. made 10 catches for 100 yards, but still had a mostly quiet afternoon as the Giants spent nearly the entire game fighting against a double-digit deficit.

At least Beckham was quiet until after the game, when he complained that referee Terry McAulay's crew shouldn't be permitted to work another Giants game again. Beckham said when he questioned one call, an official told him to "get out of my face."


Manning insisted New York is "good enough to compete" against teams such as the Cowboys and Steelers, saying, "It's a matter of a couple of plays or, today, a couple of inches."

Beckham said that improvement by the offense "needs to be very soon. Like next week."

The Giants' lack of offense -- they were outgained 389-234 -- was coupled by a series of injuries on defense that left them short-handed for much of the game against a Steelers team that is 12-2 in December/January regular-season games the last four seasons.


Steelers S Shamarko Thomas and NT Javon Hargrave both left with concussions.

Giants coach Ben McAdoo grew up about an hour away from Pittsburgh in Homer City, Pa. Four busloads of fans from his hometown attended -- not all of them Giants fans.

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger threw a touchdown pass for the 43rd consecutive home game, the longest active streak in the NFL.

Giants QB Eli Manning made his 195th consecutive start.

Steelers OLB James Harrison, who at 38 was a backup at the start of the season, made his third consecutive start and made his fifth sack in five games.


The Roethlisberger-to-Antonio Brown TD pass play was the 49th for the duo, tying them with Terry Bradshaw and Lynn Swann for the most by a Steelers QB-wide receiver combination.

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