The New York Giants played one of their worst games of the season and probably one of the worst games under Tom Coughlin in their 24-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. That may sound a bit harsh considering they only lost by four points, but the refs had a hand in giving the Giants 11 extra points with some interesting calls, so the score doesn’t feel like it was as close as it was.
The real concern to take away from last night’s game, which was a failure in all three facets of the game, is the struggles of the offense. Despite winning the previous two games against the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, most people had noted the red zone struggles, and really the overall struggles of the offense.
The Giants ran into a team capable of making them pay for their mistakes in the red zone, which was bound to happen sooner rather than later.
The Giants kicked seven field goals in those two victories, and two more in Sunday’s loss. The inability to put up seven points when they get close is coming back to haunt them. It cost them a chance yesterday as well; the Giants set up a first and goal from the two-yard line on a drive in the third quarter but could not score. It would have put them up 24-10 and in a commanding position, but the Steelers defense did what everyone else has been doing.
The run game is getting stuffed close and Eli Manning has not been finding open receivers in the red zone. It may have a lot to do with the health of Hakeem Nicks, but even when Nicks was missing games last season Manning was not struggling to this degree. Manning has just one touchdown pass in the last three games combined.
Teams are starting to realize that you can slow down Victor Cruz by jamming him at the line of scrimmage, and Cruz vented his frustrations on this last night.
“Dallas just grabbed and held a lot at the line,” Cruz said. “And this (Steelers) team, that’s kind of what they’re known for. Every team’s gonna do it, and every team that can do it will.”
Nicks has not been able to fight off press coverage either even though that has been one of his strengths. Clearly he is not 100 percent. Once he gets there, hopefully the Giants offense can get back to being the dominant group we’re used to. Nicks noted last night he expected defenses to catch up to what the Giants do on offense.
“Once you’re excelling so much offensively, teams are going to start scheming to try to stop what you do,” Nicks said. “We just got to look at that film and start critiquing ourselves and start doing some things differently.”
Coming into this game the Giants were No. 3 in scoring offense and No. 6 in yards per game. Something is clearly wrong and they need to figure it out quickly or they face being mired in another second-half collapse.