What the heck is going on with the Steelers? It's hard to tell from one week to the next if you're going to get the good Steelers team or the Evil Twin Brother.
In a showdown of 5-1 teams, the Steelers again came up short against a team that is, in my humble opinion, no better than the Steelers. In fact, I'd even go as far as saying that the Steelers are better than the Jints.
After all, en route to their 5-1 record, the Jints fattened up on underachieving teams such as the Rams, Seahawks, Bangles (oops Bengals) and San Francisco (combined record: 6-24). They lost to Cleveland (3-4). They looked ripe for the picking.
Meanwhile, the Black & Gold scored nice wins over Baltimore and Jacksonville, and a blowout win over Cincinnati. I figured the Steelers should be able to take it to the Giants. I've not been convinced that Big Blue was really a good team, and this seemed like a great chance for that to be proven.
After some great defensive stops, and two challenges, in the first quarter, the Stillers seemed to have things under control. Clearly, they were not dominating or anything like that, but after they took a 14-9 lead in the third quarter, they seemed well on their way to the win.
The defense was holding the Giants to field goals, despite the good field position the Giants enjoyed most of the game. Note to Pittsburgh (and any team, really): If you give a team enough chances, they're going to break out.
Sadly, the offense did little worth noting. Ben Roethlisberger's 4 interceptions and his exasperating habit of holding the ball too damn long and getting sacked didn't help. They just struggled to get into any kid of rhythm.
In Big Ben's defense, his O-line has been a swinging gate for certain games this season (notably, the NFC East matchups), and it is difficult to set up for the pass when you're on your back or running for your life.
However, that line was good enough to give him time to connect for a 65-yard TD to Nate Washington in the third quarter and also good enough to provide running lanes for Mwelde Moore's 84 yards and a 32-yard TD in the first quarter. It should have also been sufficient for the Steelers to actually gain a yard in the last two minutes of the game.
And don't even get me started about missed opportunities like the Washington TD nullified by a penalty or the errant snap that effectively killed the Steelers mojo. Dumb setbacks like that are part of the game and teams should be able to overcome these things.
To be sure, a 6-2 record is nothing to sneeze at. They're in fine shape in their division, and it would take a monumental collapse for them to be kicked out of the driver's seat in the AFC North. One can only hope that the Steelers will figure some things out to prevent this from even becoming a concern.