Manning Is Not Better Than Roethlisberger, Beckham Is Not Brown, McAdoo Has Work To Do To Rival Tomlin

By Jason Keidel
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If you’ve spent the last six years around here, you may know this slice of CBS is not sympathetic to the Hudson or Hackensack Rivers, where the Giants play football. But rather to the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela.

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So when the Pittsburgh Steelers swept the ashes of the New York Giants, all my friends who stalked me like the Grim Reaper, counting the hours until my demise, slithered back into their Big Blue man caves, licking their football wounds.

In case you missed it, the Giants fell short in Western Pennsylvania on Sunday, 24-14. And all the cool comparisons we heard from local media — which slanted decidedly toward New Jersey — tilted toward Pittsburgh on Sunday.

All week we heard how Odell Beckham Jr., not Antonio Brown, was the best wideout in the world, and would prove it at Heinz Field. Yet in 2016, Brown has more receptions, yards, and touchdowns than the Giants’ prodigy. “But Beckham is more explosive!” is the word on the street. Yet Brown has more catches of at least 20 yards.

Odell Beckham Jr. Is flattened by the Steelers' Mike Mitchell

Giants receiver Odell Beckham, bottom, is hit by the Steelers’ Mike Mitchell after a first-half catch at Heinz Field on Dec. 4, 2016, in Pittsburgh. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

We heard that Eli Manning, who has two Super Bowl MVP awards, was the best QB of the heralded 2004 draft class, not Ben Roethlisberger, who has also won two Super Bowls (playing in three). Yet Roethlisberger has more touchdowns (25) than Manning (22), has fewer interceptions (8) than Manning (12), more yards per game (275.8) than Manning (258.1), and has a better passer rating (99.4) than Manning (88.3).

Ben McAdoo, proud papa of a six-game winning streak, was the coach du jour. Not Mike Tomlin, who has coached in two Super Bowls.

Blue and white? Or black and gold? Rooney or Mara? Or Rooney Mara? For whom does the fine actress, a direct descendent of these fine football families, root during these battles between iconic football franchises?

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You’ll find few Eli apologists like yours truly. But Big Ben is the king of the ’04 draft. While Eli is clutch, he’s a classic dropback passer who needs a pristine pocket to make his magic. Big Ben thrives on chaos, on the mayhem of the broken play. And while I’ll happily grant you Frank Gifford and the 1950s and early ’60s, the Super Bowl era belongs to Pittsburgh, which has been cleverly coined, “Sixburgh.” Life would be decidedly different had the Giants promoted one of their promising assistant coaches, some guys named Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi. But they didn’t. Pittsburgh hired Chuck Noll, and that was that.

Manning is already being vaporized for his performance on Sunday. Certainly, he should shoulder much of the blame. Given his heft and history, some of his interceptions are baffling. This is the same man who made that flawless pass to Mario Manningham, arguably the greatest throw in Super Bowl history. Yet he didn’t see the 6-foot-1, 235-pound Lawrence Timmons on the goal line on Sunday, standing directly in front of his intended receiver.

It’s a familiar refrain: a forlorn Manning gazing solemnly toward the sideline after yet another botched red zone drive, then cocks his head and shrugs one shoulder. After 13 years, you’d like to think Eli were done with these bonehead passes. The Eli dichotomy has bewildered Big Blue devotees for a decade. You’ll certainly take the two rings. He’s a Hall of Fame quarterback. He’s just not Big Ben.

No more bragging. The Giants (8-4) still have a better record than my beloved black & gold (7-5). New York did not need the game as much as Pittsburgh. And while you really should never overlook a road game against the Steelers, you can forgive the Giants if at least part of their hearts, minds, and playbooks were planted in next Sunday, not this past Sunday.

Indeed, the Giants next play their rivals, the first-place Dallas Cowboys. “America’s Team” is the hottest club in the sport, owner of 11 straight wins. But the Giants are the only NFL team who can say this: They beat the Cowboys this season. And they did it in Dallas.

And a win in Dallas will help you forget the fact that Big Blue was no match for the black & gold.

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Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel