Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, Sunday's game was given meaning it didn't really deserve in terms of providing some kind of inspiration to a city filled with people who have already started working together to bring the city and area back to life after the devastation.
No matter how hard anyone might have tried to argue otherwise, the Giants were never going to be anything more to that effort than a Sunday afternoon diversion before getting back to work. Tom Coughlin said after the game that he and the team felt bad that they couldn't provide "some type of inspiration" for people who need it.
They shouldn't lose too much sleep over it. The fact that they couldn't provide a few entertaining hours should be a much bigger concern.
Coughlin can start with a passing offense that has screeched to a halt since Victor Cruz's 77-yard touchdown pass against the Redskins and, frankly, wasn't operating at such a high level before that big play. Eli Manning's numbers from Sunday were awful -- 10-of-24 for 125 yards and an interception -- but even worse was the fact that there wasn't one moment when it felt like the Giants were close to clicking with their most potent offensive weapons.
The Giants have been set up to win in a very specific way and the largest responsibility for making that happen falls on Manning's shoulders. There were plenty of reasons why the Giants couldn't move the ball on Sunday, including a very good Steelers defense, but Manning's struggles were the most glaring because the team has no alternative route to victory if he's going to play like a poor man's Mark Sanchez.
Coughlin's teams have never played well in the second halves of seasons, they are now 1-8 in their ninth game of the season since Coughlin took over as coach, and this was a particularly ugly way to start this attempt to buck history. Here's the rest of the good, bad and ugly from Sunday's game.
GOOD: Even if you hate the outcome for the Giants, as football fans you should be happy that the game didn't wind up getting decided by the brutal calls that helped the home team to 14 points in the first half of the game. Referee Bill Leavy's crew seemed hellbent on making themselves the stars of the show so we should be grateful that it didn't wind up that way.
BAD: Cruz took a big shot from Steelers safety Ryan Clark (which was penalized and shouldn't have been) and he did not look like himself after returning to the game. He alligator armed a couple of passes and dropped another, leading to a second straight ineffectual week.
UGLY: Cruz looked better than Hakeem Nicks, who isn't creating separation and clearly isn't held in the same confidence by Manning or the team's offensive play callers. It could be lingering injury issues or something else, but the Giants need to get Nicks on track as much as Manning.
UGLY: The special teams problems of past years had not been in much evidence until Sunday. Huge kickoff and punt returns helped the Steelers recover from a 20-10 deficit and provide something else for the Giants to worry about in their own backyard.
GOOD: Justin Tuck had a pair of sacks and Osi Umenyiora was credited for a strip sack that Michael Boley turned into a 70-yard touchdown. Even if you think that was the wrong call, Umenyiora's pass rush had an effect and that's not something we've said at any other point in the season.
BAD: Hate to say we told you so, but we said last week that the decision to move back to David Diehl at right tackle made no sense. The running game did nothing and Diehl continues to be a liability in pass protection in front of a quarterback who looked uncharacteristically skittish in the face of the Steelers rush on Sunday.
GOOD: Reassuring might be a better category for this one, but, unlike the Giants, we don't break what doesn't need fixing. The lead in the division is intact, the rest of the NFC East isn't any good and there's plenty of time for the Giants to get back on track.