2004-12-17 / Sports

Pittsburgh Stifles Jets: Giants’ Season Fades Away

By Michael Avallone Sports Columnist

By Michael Avallone
Sports Columnist

The Jets’ Chad Pennington cannot elude the sack from Steelers’ James Farrior in a Pittsburgh 17-6 win. (AP/Keith Srakocic)
The Jets’ Chad Pennington cannot elude the sack from Steelers’ James Farrior in a Pittsburgh 17-6 win. (AP/Keith Srakocic) It was not a good weekend for either of the New York teams, though wins by one or both would have been classified as upsets. That being said, the Jets loss to the buzzsaw known as the Pittsburgh Steelers showed they still have some work to do in order to compete with the elite teams. As for the Giants, their season continued to spiral downward with a dismal performance in Baltimore. Rookie QB Eli Manning endured a nightmarish afternoon and was benched late in the game. So it goes for the G-Men…

New York Jets

PASSING OFFENSE (D) – QB Chad Pennington had his worst game as a professional against the Steelers. A week after his triumphant return against Houston, Pennington completed 17-of-31 passes for 189 yards and zero TDs. The swarming Pittsburgh defense intercepted him three times and several of his passes were under thrown, leading to questions as to whether his shoulder is as sound as he says it is. WR Justin McCareins led the team with 78 yards on four catches.

RUSHING OFFENSE (C-) – RB Curtis Martin’s total of 72 yards, while not good, was not awful. However, the future Hall-of-Famer averaged just three yards per carry and was largely ineffective against the “Blittsburgh” defense. Backup RB LaMont Jordan carried just three times for 10 yards, though he did have a 30-yard TD run negated.

PASS DEFENSE (B+) – Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger ran his record-breaking start to 10-0 but Gang Green did not make it easy on him. The Jets defense picked off two passes and held the rookie to just 9-of-19 passing for 144 yards. Unfortunately for New York, two passes late in the game went for a combined 72 yards and both led to touchdowns that sealed the win for the Steelers.

RUSH DEFENSE (B-) – As he has done all year, RB Jerome Bettis bullied the opposing defense late in the game. After a steady dose of RB Duce Staley (16 rushes, 51 yards), the Steelers used a fresh “Bus” to run over the tired New York line. Bettis finished with 57 yards and another TD on only 10 carries, including 46 in the final quarter.

The result may not have been what the Jets (9-4) and their fans were hoping for, but the Steelers (12-1) are just on fire right now. New York more than held its own against Pittsburgh, but the Steelers “D” was just too tough for Pennington and the rest of the offense to overcome. Unfortunately for Gang Green, a visit from the Seahawks looms next, and despite Seattle’s inconsistency, this is a dangerous game for New York. Up Next: vs. SEA (7-6) Prediction: NYJ 24, SEA 21

New York Giants

PASSING OFFENSE (D-) – The only reason New York does not receive a failing grade is because backup QB Kurt Warner came in and played well in garbage time, throwing for 127 yards on 6-of-9 passing. However, with rookie QB Eli Manning in the game, the Giants offense went nowhere for the fourth straight game. Manning was an awful 4-of-18 for just 27 yards and two INTs before getting benched in the fourth quarter. His passer rating was 0.0 but again, a large part of the blame must be laid at the feet of the offensive line. TE Jeremy Shockey led the team with five catches for 83 yards.

RUSHING OFFENSE (D) – As good a season as RB Tiki Barber has had, it is clear that Big Blue’s reliance on the 5’10 back has taken a toll. Barber had his second consecutive poor game, rushing for just 55 yards on 19 carries, fumbling twice (though he did score a TD). After gaining more than 100 yards on the ground in 8 of 11 games, Barber has rushed for just 93 yards combined the last two weeks.

PASS DEFENSE (D) – The New York secondary looked lost (again) and for the second consecutive week, made a below-average quarterback look like a superstar. Ravens QB Kyle Boller had one of his best games as a professional, throwing four TD passes among his 219 yards. The only highlight was a 16-yard sack by rookie LB Reggie Torbor that resulted in a 50-yard TD return from DE Osi Umenyiora.

RUSH DEFENSE (D) – Even with injured RB Jamal Lewis gaining just 32 yards, Baltimore rushed for 189, 104 of them by backup RB Chester Taylor. Taylor burst through the line for runs of 14, 19, and 12 yards – exploiting the weakened New York defense that is without Des Michael Strahan and Keith Washington, both lost for the season.

The Giants (5-8) are replaying last year’s disastrous final six weeks to a “t.” There is no shame in losing to a sound Baltimore team, but to give up 37 points to the offensively challenged Ravens (8-5) borders on the ridiculous. For the second consecutive year, Big Blue seems to be packing it in – a large reason why coach Jim Fassel was fired last December. Facing Pittsburgh next week will just pour salt on an already gaping wound. Up Next: vs. PIT (12-1) Prediction: PIT 24, NYG 10

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