What an awesome win, and what an example of the resiliency of that has become the hallmark of our New York Football G-Men.  I can’t think of an attribute I’d rather my team have – since we turned the corner late last year, the Giants have developed an ability to overcome shit, to get up and fight back from things that would fall lesser teams and lesser men.

The big thing we had to overcome yesterday was the officiating.  Normally, I refrain from bitching about the refs, but yesterday was unique: I can’t remember a game in which so many key calls were blown, so egregiously, against us.

–We’ll start with the fourth down goal line play on which Jacobs was stuffed.  1) That was a touchdown – he clearly pierced the plane; and 2) The challenge that preceded that play, while validly overruling the initial touchdown call, led to the refs spotting the ball about a foot further back from the goal line than they should have.  It was a shockingly careless spot, and it cost us.

That ridiculous personal foul called on Kenny Phillips.  Aikman – who is amazing, by the way – was all over this one.  On that play, Mewelde Moore was bobbling the ball and Phillips led with his shoulder.  There was absolutely nothing dirty or unnecessary about what Phillips did.

The NFL has gotten so protective of players’ health that refs break out the flag at the mere sight of a big hit, as if automatically means that the rules were broken.  But as my brother said at the time, “I’m sorry that Big Ben exposed [Moore], but that’s not our fault.”

There were two extremely visible holds by Steelers d-backs that weren’t called.  On of them was in the third quarter, when Smith, who would have been wide open on a flag pattern, was slowed up when a Steeler tugged his jersey.  This led to an incompletion on a key third down pass Smith probably should have caught anyway (not a great game for my man yesterday…). 

But the refs miss those calls occasionally, so you don’t get too bent out shape over one of them.  Until later in the game, when they missed an even more obvious hold on Plax on a fade play that probably cost us a touchdown.

**

Ok, let’s get to the players.

I haven’t reviewed the tape yet, but the obvious game ball goes to the swarming pass rush, which sacked Big Ben five times and knocked him down 16 times.  Remember after the Browns game when our pass rush was a huge question mark?  That seems like a long time ago now.

Again I haven’t looked at the tape so it’s hard to tell, but my sense is that we didn’t blitz very often and much of the pressure was generated by the front four.  Certainly the sacks themselves – three by ‘Nuke, one by Tuck, and one by Tollefson – went to our D-linemen, so good job, boys.

It was also nice to see us get those four picks, although two of them were on fourth down in bat-down situations.  But along with our pass rush, our seeming inability to create turnovers had threatened to become a disturbing trend.  Hopefully there’s nothing to worry about in both respects, Charlie.

Offensively, the game-ball goes to the O-line.  Although the run-blocking was uncharacteristically poor, the pass protection more than made up for it.  The Steelers have a nasty pass rush and Eli wasn’t sacked once.  Awesome job, fatties.

Eli also deserves credit.  No, it wasn’t his best game, but it was a winning performance that should make us even more confident going forward.  19 for 32 for 199 yards doesn’t sound great, but don’t forget those two drops each by Hedgecock (on short passes) and Smith (on the flag pattern described above and a deep post on which, although he got crushed, he probably should have secured the catch).

Eli also saved his best pass for the most important moment, that fourth and 6 to Amani that set up the field goal that pulled us to 14-12.  Speaking of Amani, a special game-ball goes to him: Once you saw that the open man downfield was Amani, did you not 75% more confident at that moment?  What a fine receiver and a great all-time Giant.

**

On the downside, yesterday’s game was a clear example of the coaching staff’s forcing the issue with Jacobs, particularly in short-yardage situations.  Just because a guy is big doesn’t mean he’s the best man for the job.  In fact, I would argue that Jacobs’ size prevents him from getting the leverage necessary to generate power in cramped quarters.  And his lack of short-area quickness precludes improvisation: if the hole is blocked and Jacobs has the ball, we’re fucked.

In terms of the running backs, the obvious question after yesterday is, as NYGMen commentator Cody put it last week, “Whither Ahmad Bradshaw?”

On Saturday, I gained some insight into this from a source I met while covering a story for my day job, who told me Ahmad has been “getting into trouble with the coach.”  So there you have it, folks: Ahmad is in the doghouse.  For what, we do not know.  Maybe it’s related to his historical legal troubles, and maybe it’s not.  Either way, this is very disappointing to hear.

Speaking of the doghouse, this shit with Plax has gone too far.  I’ve tried to defend him all year, but his most recent episode of insubordination has, I fear, made a fool out of me.  Plax: Stop being a dick.  We just gave you a new contract, and all we ask is that you do what’s asked of you at your job.  It shouldn’t be so fucking hard.

**

This game reminded me of the Green Bay playoff game last year.  It was a tough road game at dusk against a storied opponent wearing yellow helmets.  And while that opponent was favored, it became evident over the course of the game that we were the better team.

As with the Green Bay game, our dominance wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard.  Yesterday, we had to overcome poor red-zone efficiency when our first four trips yielded four field goals.

Also like the Green Bay game, our inferior opponent stayed in the game with a couple of big plays: Against the Packers, it was that bomb to Driver.  Against the Steelers, it was the long run by Moore and then the bomb to Washington (obvious point here, but what in the world was Butler thinking on that one?).

And like the Green Bay game, this one appeared to be slipping away in the third quarter, when our opponent finally got their shit together and started playing well.  But in both games, we came back and won the fourth quarter decisively.

I’m proud of this team.