The Steelers, wearing their 1934 throwback uniforms for the first time, played perhaps their best all around game of the season against RGIII and the Washington Redskins. The 27-12 win pulled their record above .500 but they will have to duplicate that against the NFL champs New York Giants this Sunday in New York.
|END ZONE CELEBRATION—Steelers tight end Leonard Pope (45) celebrates a touchdown catch in the first quarter on Sunday, Oct. 28, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
The Giants improved to 6-2 as they pulled out a 29-24 victory over the Dallas Cowboys which went down to the last second.
The Giants have been playing just well enough to win, regardless of the competition, which has put them into a solid lead in the NFC East ahead of the struggling Redskins, Cowboys, and Philadelphia Eagles.
Because Eli Manning has established himself as one of the top 5 quarterbacks in the NFL with one of the most balanced attacks in the league, the defense has been overlooked. But the Giants started winning after a slow start once the defense started clicking. Their biggest strength is their ability to force turnovers, which they have done in the past four games. Against Dallas they picked off three of Tony Romo’s passes to take a substantial halftime lead but allowed the Cowboys back into the game in the second half. Much like the Steelers they don’t put away teams.
The Giants are led by Manning, 294 passes, 184 completions, 2301 yards, 62.6 completion rate, for a less than impressive 89.1 QB rating. He has a variety of receivers led by Victor Cruz, 52 catches for 650 yard. Others are: Hakeem Nicks, 26, 380, Martellus Bennett 29 for 334 and Domenik Hixon 25 for 372, and late bloomer Rueben Randle 9 for 154.
The Giants also have a very balanced ground game in Ahmad Bradshaw, 590 yards on 126 carries for an impressive 4.5 yards per carry average. And Andre Brown has emerged as a solid backup with 236 yards on 46 carries for a 5.2 average per carry.
The Steelers defense completely shut down the Redskins ground game holding Robert Griffin III to his lowest total of the season. He rushed 6 times for just 8 yards. Alfred Morris who came into the game with one of the highest rushing averages in the NFL, was held to 59 yards on just 13 carries.
RGIII was also contained through the air where he was 16 of 34 for just 177 yards. He came into the game with a 71 percent completion percentage.
The Steelers offense continues to look impressive as they rack up numbers with Ben Roethlisberger staying off the ground. So far this season he has been one of the least sacked QBs in the league after leading it the past few years. He wasn’t sacked at all Sunday.
He has completed 179 passes of 268 attempts, for a 66.8 percentage, for 1987 yards. He has distributed the ball very well with Antonio Brown leading the way with 40 catches for 480 yards, followed by Mike Wallace 36 catches for 459 yards, Heath Miller 35 catches for 336 yards and Emmanuel Sanders 22 catches for 282 yards. Miller leads all receivers in touchdowns with 6, Wallace has 4.
The ground game has moved from the worst in the NFL to one of the best with the performance of Jonathan Dwyer in the past two games. He has two consecutive 100 plus yard games moving him up to 299 for the season on 58 carries for an impressive 5.2 average, putting him among the league leaders in that category.
The Steelers are still chasing the Baltimore Ravens 6-2 who are coming off a bye week. They will face the Cleveland Browns 2-6, who is coming off a 7-6 victory over the San Diego Chargers. The Browns have played just about everyone tough this season keeping the score low and close, which means they could very easily upset the Ravens which would pull the Steelers to within one game if they are able to defeat the Giants. A loss by the Steelers and a win by the Ravens would drop Pittsburgh three games behind the Ravens.
This is another must win for the Steelers. It will also say a lot about if the Steelers are a championship caliber team or not.