Crunch Time…Can the Steelers seal the deal against Eli, Giants?

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by Aubrey Bruce

After the Pittsburgh Steelers defense manhandled the Washington Redskins and their All-World rookie phenom, the multi-talented Robert Griffin III or RGIII as he is more commonly known, they seem to be back in the saddle again. Now a few of the “chicken hawks” have again sanctified their Heinz Field prayer beads and re-ordained the Steelers defense, gray hair and all as the ones.

Redskins
ANOTHER HUNDRED YARD GAME—Steelers running back Jonathan Dwyer (27), left, gets a handoff by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) in the third quarter Oct. 28, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

Well Tonto say; “not so fast Keemosabe, the drought still not over here in the middle of the AFC North desert.”

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin had this to say about the victory at his weekly news conference on Tuesday; “[It was] our most complete performance to this point this year; obviously not perfect but we played sixty minutes in all three phases. There were errors [but] there were a lot of positives, contributions from a lot of people just a great overall team effort one that I hope we can build upon moving forward. With the challenges that await us this week hopefully it’s a good spring board for us as we continue to grow and work and prepare on a day to day basis with the men that were working with.”

I agree with Tomlin that the win was Pittsburgh’s most complete and decisive win this year but there are a few components that are a bit troubling to me. Yeah, they kept RGIII in the pocket and tightened up their coverage but this week they have to face Mr. “pocket passer” himself, NY Giants QB Eli Manning. Senator I know Eli Manning. RGIII is no Eli Manning. The front three of the Black and Gold, Brett Keisel, Casey Hampton and Ziggy Hood accounted for 2 tackles, 4 assists and nary sack, not one. The front three of the Black and Gold had better get some serious pressure on Manning forcing him into multiple “hot” reads and check downs because if they don’t force him to alter his play selection, the Steelers secondary are going to be in a “hot mess” you diggg….. Furthermore safety Ryan Clarke had four tackles and three assists, not a good sign especially when any and all of your safety patrols better be in cover two or manned up on the slot receiver or Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw and/or the alternate G-man running back or tight end exiting the backfield or the Giants line of scrimmage.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have to win this game not just to put them in a position to win the AFC North but to be postured for an extra week of “R&R” when the postseason tier is decided. That extra time off is something that they will sorely need being as though their bye week was so long ago it seems like it was part of the preseason.

The Steelers next trifecta of competition is; at the NY Giants, facing the KC Chiefs and the B-More Ravens both at Heinz Field. If the Steelers can miraculously win all three contests and Baltimore in light of their numerous injuries happens to succumb to the Cleveland “Brownies” in Cleveland, then it is going to get “funkified” over in the North Shore house that the “Chief” built. The Ravens at that point and time will be talking to themselves saying; “it’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under.” That being said the Ravens have to face Pittsburgh, Cleveland and the Oakland Raiders at M&T Bank stadium in Baltimore. Theoretically the “Dirty Birds” could win all three games so the Steelers had better keep their fingers on the pulse of the division because one slip up could, oh well you get the picture.

A win against the NY Giants is a must win because this is only the second real test that the Steelers have faced since facing Eli Manning’s sibling Peyton earlier this season. The elder Manning made them look a bit silly when they traveled to Denver to face him for the first game of the 2012 campaign. They are again facing a quality offense that includes a premier quarterback, running back and a decent corps of wide outs.

The Steelers seemingly played 60 minutes of when they defeated the Redskins. To beat the talented Giants with their ferocious defensive front four and “high octane” offense the Steelers are going to have to play sixty one minutes in order to “seal the deal.”

(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com or 412.583.6741. Bruce can also be heard on the ‘Odd Couple Sports Show’ where he is the AFC North and NFL analyst. The show is hosted by Adam Ragle streaming live on the WCWA Fox Sports Toledo 1230AM. Bruce is featured on Tuesdays from 10-11 a.m. during the NFL season. Listen to Aubrey’s archived “Odd Couple” segments on: http://www.worldspeakconnnection.com click on ‘Fair Catch’)

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