Tomorrow we will look in depth at the Bills, but there were some loose threads from last Sunday’s game I want to finish up.
I gave a fair number of stats for the Giants because they struck me as so unusual for a team on a six-game winning streak. For instance, the number of first downs vs. those of their opponents. Prior to Sunday’s game they had 203 first downs, which was actually 15 less than the 218 by their opponents. The game at Heinz field was no different, as the Giants had 16 first downs, the Steelers 20. Not too surprising in a loss.
But if you look at the play-by-play, half of their first downs came in the fourth quarter, five of the eight in “garbage time”—with less than a minute and a half left in the game. And two of the five were by penalty—a pass interference on Ross Cockrell and an Unnecessary Roughness on Stephon Tuitt. More on the penalties later…
In the opponent preview for this game I noted that both the Steelers’ last two victories and the Giants’ six-game winning streak were somewhat suspect because of the quality of the opponents, and that consequently this game would serve as a measuring rod for both teams. Well, the results are in, and the Steelers sure looked like contenders yesterday at Heinz Field.
There were a number of encouraging signs on both sides of the ball. Let’s begin with the defense, which has been the big unknown this season.
Of the Steelers’ remaining opponents, the team with the best record is the 8-3 New York Giants. Fortunately for the Steelers, the Giants are coming to Heinz Field, although two road wins in a row, the second on a very short week, does make that seem slightly less important. But only slightly.
The question which comes first to my mind at least is, are the Giants as good as their record? Let’s take a look and see what we see.
One knock against the Giants is their schedule. As I’ve said several times in the past few weeks, you can only play the teams on your schedule. But it is fair to question how much weight to give the Steelers’ wins against a team which hasn’t won a game in almost a year (the Browns’ last win was December 13th of 2015) and against a backup quarterback and otherwise banged-up Colts team. Read more
By Ivan Cole
Several years ago, the ESPN NFL pregame show, “NFL Countdown,” decided to add Rush Limbaugh to its lineup. It wasn’t long thereafter that Limbaugh offered, in his humble opinion, that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated (Okay, so far, so good, opinions of all kinds are allowed), because (Wait for it), he was placed in his position because of affirmative action.
The reaction was nuclear. Limbaugh left ESPN not long thereafter. At the time, I couldn’t believe that Limbaugh could be that stupid. Yes, that was his schtick, but how could he not understand that this was a broader audience who came to sports to get away from that sort of thing, at least for a few hours?