EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Pittsburgh Steelers tried to beat themselves before they beat the New York Giants.
Overcoming unusual sloppiness, the Steelers dominated the second half for a 24-20 victory Sunday as Isaac Redman rushed for 147 yards and the winning touchdown from 1 yard with 4:02 to go.
Temporary relief from the destruction of Superstorm Sandy was what New York’s fans sought, and the Giants provided it for a while. But they couldn’t stop Redman, who had little relief with Pittsburgh’s other two main backs injured.
The Steelers (5-3) arrived in New Jersey hours before the game, which might have accounted for their carelessness. They had the fewest giveaways in the NFL entering the game, but were neglectful with the ball and in pass coverage; cornerback Keenan Lewis had 87 yards on two pass interference penalties. They wasted some great kick returns, too.
It all added up to a pleasant couple of hours for locals, who packed MetLife Stadium despite the difficulties caused by a lack of power in many homes, long gas lines and, of course, severe damage throughout the region.
But when Pittsburgh came on relentlessly, the one-quarter of the 80,991 seats occupied by Terrible Towel-waving Steelers faithful could celebrate an impressive comeback victory, coach Mike Tomlin’s 60th win. This is one of the oldest rivalries in the NFL, although the teams have met only five times in 18 years. It had to feel weird for the Giants to have the ballpark rock when the visitors took charge.
The Giants (6-3) saw their four-game winning streak end. They seemed in control as Michael Boley sprinted 70 yards with a fumble recovery in the second quarter.
Ben Roethlisberger cocked his arm to throw and defensive end Osi Umenyiora hit it. The ball came loose and while the quarterback signaled that his arm was coming forward, Boley sped down the right sideline for the score. Video replay upheld the touchdown for a 14-7 New York lead.
The Steelers’ long day began with a plane ride to New Jersey, a short side trip to their team hotel – they couldn’t get enough rooms to stay in the area on Saturday night and needed a league travel waiver to arrive on game day – then on to the stadium. Outside, folks tailgated and tried to blunt some of the devastation from the week’s superstorm. As Giants fan Courtney Davis, whose town of Sea Bright was washed away by Hurricane Sandy, said in response to holding the game: “We need this.”
Pittsburgh needed to straighten itself out and did just in time.
Among the gaffes: a fake field goal from the New York 3 early in the fourth quarter on which kicker Shaun Suisham lost a yard. That wasted a 63-yard punt return by Sanders on his first such runback all season.
Eli Manning threw for only 125 yards in one of the worst games of his career.
Ike Taylor’s interception of Manning’s pass for Victor Cruz into double coverage set up Pittsburgh’s 58-yard drive to Sanders’ leaping 4-yard catch in the back of the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
Back immediately came the Giants, helped by a 41-yard interference call on Lewis. Andre Brown powered in from the 1 a play after Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark’s late hit on Cruz in the end zone gave New York a first down.
Then Umenyiora and Boley made their huge play.
Lewis wasn’t through contributing to New York’s yardage. He also had a 46-yard interference penalty guarding Cruz, but Lawrence Tynes’ field goal try was short from 51 yards. In the final 31 seconds of the half, Roethlisberger hit Jerricho Cotchery for 24 yards, Heath Miller for 23, and Suisham nailed a 30-yard field goal.
Tynes matched that with a 50-yarder in the third quarter set up by Martellus Bennett’s 33-yard reception. Tynes later made a 23-yarder for a 20-10 lead.
Wallace’s weaving dash across half the field for a 51-yard score that made it 20-17.
Pittsburgh lost leading receiver Antonio Brown in the first half with a left ankle injury and kick returner Chris Rainey in the third quarter with a rib injury.