The New York Giants saw their six-game winning streak come to an end on Sunday as they were defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-14. The loss also ended any realistic chances the Giants had to catch Dallas Cowboys for the NFC East division crown.
It was a disappointing performance by the New York Giants, especially their offense, which produced just 234 total yards. Still, despite the poor output by the Giants offense, they still had opportunities to win had they executed better in key situations.
Here are the key reasons why the Giants lost to the Steelers:
1. Red zone failures
Inefficiency cost the Giants dearly on Sunday, as they squandered several scoring opportunities.
First, with the Giants trailing 5-0 midway through the second quarter and at the Steelers 9-yard line, Eli Manning was intercepted by linebacker Lawrence Timmons as he tried to connect with tight end Larry Donnell. Timmons ran the interception back to the Giants 40-yard line, and three plays later the Steelers scored a touchdown. The interception resulted in at least a nine-point swing.
Then on the Giants second possession of the second half, trailing 14-0 and facing a 4th-and-1 at the Steelers 3-yard line, head coach Ben McAdoo elected to go for it. Manning tried to connect with Will Tye in the middle of the endzone, but the pass was broken up by Ryan Shazier. Timmons had a clear A-Gap run at Manning and the play was doomed from the get go.
2. Eli was not elite
In a matchup between two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Eli Manning was thoroughly outplayed by Ben Roethlisberger. Manning completed 24 out of 39 passes for just 195 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions, compared to Roethlisberger who went 24-for-36 for 289 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. In all four of his matchups with the Steelers, Manning has failed to throw for 200 yards.
In addition to his interceptions, Manning had several misfires throughout the game. He also failed to target Victor Cruz once the entire game. If the Giants were going to win they needed a solid performance from Manning, and he did not deliver.
3. Le’Veon Bell had a big game
The Giants knew if they were going to win this game, they had to contain Le’Veon Bell who entered the game averaging 142 scrimmage yards a game. Bell carried the Ball 29 times for 118 yards and had six receptions for 64 yards. He became the first running back all season to rush for 100 yards against the Giants. Some of this can be attributed losing Damon Harrison and Johnathan Hankins for part of the game, and Jason Pierre-Paul for most of the game. Even with the injuries, the Giants needed to do a better job defending Bell
4. Giants couldn’t cover the Steelers tight ends
The Giants inability to cover tight ends was once again exposed against the Steelers. Tight end Ladarius Green had six catches for a season-high 110 yards and beat Landon Collins on a 20-yard touchdown that put the Steelers up 21-7. Tight end Jesse James added three catches for 32 yards. The Giants simply did not have an answer for the Steelers tight ends.
5. Didn’t get the ball to Odell in the first half
One of the reasons the Giants were shutout in the first half was because Odell Beckham Jr had just one reception for 10 yards. He would finish the game with 10 receptions for 100 yards, but it was too little too late as the Giants dug themselves a 14-0 halftime hole. The Giants offense goes as Beckham goes, and if they got him involved more in the first half the outcome may have been different.