PFF on Week 9: Steelers @ Giants
Overall LeBeau called a good game, but it still baffles me that our best pass rusher, one of the best in the NFL, only rushed Eli 15 times.
After a tumultuous week in the New York/New Jersey area because of Hurricane Sandy, the decision was made to go forward with the game between the Steelers and the Giants. The Steelers showed no ill-effects from their gameday travel to East Rutherford, N.J., as they finished the game strong with a 14-point fourth quarter in a 24-20 comeback victory.
It was another week of classic Steelers football as they mixed opportunistic defense and special teams with a running attack which seemingly “plugs and plays” a different bruising running back every week. Throw in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s quietly strong season and the Steelers are poised to make a second-half run in the AFC.
The Giants ended a four-game winning streak with the heartbreaking loss as they fall to 6-3 on the season. They continue to show glimpses of possibly being the best team in the league before taking a step back. Still, they’ve certainly proved that midseason power rankings are nothing more than Monday morning fodder and they’re in good shape for another playoff run come January.
Let’s take a look at the good and bad from this week’s game.
Pittsburgh — Three Performances of Note
Next Man Up
Perhaps our “Next Man Up” features should revolve around Pittsburgh’s running backs as it was Isaac Redman’s (+2.7) time to shine this week. It’s not as if this was Redman’s first opportunity, but the Steelers were fresh off strong performances from now-injured*Jonathan Dwyer, who used his physical style to run for more than 100 yards each of the last two weeks. Redman was a strong replacement, setting career highs in carries (26) and rushing yards (147) while maintaining Dwyer’s physicality with 121 of those yards coming after contact (4.7 per rush). Redman sealed the game, and perhaps summed up the day, with 2:23 to go in the fourth as he busted through a Linval Joseph tackle and burst into the secondary for a 28-yard gain. Redman finished with six missed tackles forced and an Elusive Rating of 99.7.
Off the Edge
The best pass rusher on the field was outside linebacker Lamarr Woodley, who had his way with Giants right tackle David Diehl. Woodley did his best work in the fourth quarter as he beat Diehl off the edge for two hurries before making one of the biggest plays of the game with 3:45 to go. With the Giants down four, and a national TV audience all but expecting more magic from Eli Manning, Woodley beat Diehl off the edge once again, this time knocking the ball from Manning’s hands to force a fumble. Though the Giants fell on the loose ball, it turned out to be their last offensive play of the day as Woodley put a damper on any late-game heroics.
While the Steelers defense had a strong game, inside linebacker Larry Foote (-5.2) was clearly the weakest link. In addition to contributing only one stop in the running game, he was handled easily by both fullback Henry Hynoski and tight end Martellus Bennett, including one pull block from Bennett that sent him to the ground. Foote was a liability in the passing game as well, giving up completions on all four balls thrown his way, three of which resulted in first downs. Foote was also the culprit on the Giants’ biggest play from scrimmage, which came early in the third quarter when he was unable to run with Bennett down the seam for a 33-yard gain.
- Steelers cornerback*Keenan Lewis surrendered only one 10-yard reception on his five targets, with two passes defensed. He did, however, commit two penalties.
- Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich played a career-high 69 snaps.
- When under no pressure, Manning was only 8-for-18 for 84 yards and a -1.8 PFF Grade.
No player made more of an impact as a pass rusher than Lamarr Woodley, who picked up four pressures on his 15 rushes, including the strip sack that thwarted any comeback attempt.