This was a complete domination by the Steelers. It may be difficult to accept that, because after all, the Giants lost only by 4 points and in fact they were ahead by 10 going into the 4th quarter. But with every football game, you have to look beyond the scores and stats to see what actually happened. Giants were ahead 20-10 going into the 4th quarter, but many of the points were gifts. One was a fumble recovery for TD by Boley on a questionable fumble/forward pass call by the refs. Giants also got a FG after an INT by Webster of a terrible throw by Big Ben. In fact the other TD that the Giants got was somewhat tainted also, because Eli threw a ball behind Cruz at the goal line that was almost picked and would have left the Giants trying a FG. But Cruz got hit late, Giants got a first down on the personal foul and came away with a TD that should have been a FG. That kind of tells you that the offense was pretty poor. Steelers defense is pretty good, but not overwhelming and Giants should have been more productive.
On the defensive side of the ball, Giants did get some turnovers and some stops, but they gave up 150 yards rushing and could not stop the Steelers in 4th quarter when they won the game with two TD drives. ST were horrible also giving up field position on kickoff returns and one big punt return all night long. Giants were in the game on the scoreboard, but were spanked badly in every phase.
Everyone is blaming Eli for the offensive woes and I am not going to be blind and say he's playing great, but it is equally obtuse to say that the offensive problems in the last two games are all on Eli's shoulders. There are two components that are primarily breaking down: the WRs and the OL. I think the Cowboys found a few things out about Giants offense - when Nicks is hurting, they don't have the consistent deep play threat and if you play them physically at the line of scrimmage, they won't get separation and make themselves good targets even for the short balls that gets the offense going and keeps the chains moving. Furthermore, when you jam the WRs and play press coverage, that gives the WRs a chance to go deep if they get a good release off the line and beat the man coverage. But the Cowboys played a lot of 2 deep S coverage protecting against deep balls. So why doesn't every defense do this every game against every team? Because when you commit to having two S deep and match up man on the WRs, it means you can never drop a S down low to the line of scrimmage and have only 7 guys "in the box" to stop the run. If the TE is split out wide, you may only have 6. This is an invitation for the opposing offense to run the ball, but the OL has not been effective at blasting the soft box and opening up holes consistently for the running game. Steelers did a lot of the same thing, playing tight press man-to-man coverage and not giving any room to the WRs. There was simply no separation for the Giants WRs and Eli often had nowhere to go with the ball.
The way to fix it (aside from motivating the WRs and OL to play better) is to be creative with throws to other targets: Wilson/Brown/Bradshaw out of the backfield, and I'm not talking about the hitch/screen that the Giants run that hasn't worked in the last 3 years against any decent defense. I am talking about some wheel routes or even seam routes to take advantage of their speed. I would also make more use of the TE down the field - Bennet can run and now Beckum is back active again also.
As far as the OL is concerned, there is one obvious thing that needs to be fixed. Locklear has to get back at RT to replace Diehl. The OL was doing pretty well and Locklear was playing OK at RT after Diehl went down. Now that Diehl has reclaimed his spot, the OL has regressed and Diehl is playing poorly. he's giving up pressures in the passing game very week and not blocking well in the running game. Here too, defenses have read this and are loading up to stop the run to the left side of the offense, because it has been more effective than when they run behind Diehl. You know the expression: if it ain't broke don't fix it. Well, it wasn't broke before, but it seems to be now.
Maybe when Nicks gets healthy, regains his speed and elusiveness things will look better, but I want to see better play from the offense in the runa nd the passing game.
On defense, the DL had good pass rush last week but was poor against the run. Hosley has talent but is getting beaten for some big plays every week. Fewell doesn't know how to call a agame and is leaving him isolated too often. (Thing back to the Moss TD in the Redskins game three weeks ago - that was Hosley he beat and there was no S help behind him). He will be a good palyer for the Giants but is struggling now. There are still too many miscommunications, blown coverages and breakdowns for the Giants secondary. That is on the coach to coach 'em up as much as it is on the players to pay attention.