EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The main thing separating Ben
Roethlisberger and Eli Manning on Saturday was the Pittsburgh
Steelers' rookie quarterback made his biggest plays with the game
on the line.
Roethlisberger threw for a season-high 316 yards and hit four
straight passes to set up Jerome Bettis' game-winning 1-yard run
with 4:57 to go, leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 33-30 win
over the New York Giants.
"I am amazed, but he is an awesome quarterback," receiver
Antwaan Randle said after Roethlisberger led the Steelers (13-1) to
a team-record 12th straight win and handed the Giants (5-9) a
seventh straight loss.
"He might have a long way to go, but he has this great poise,"
said Randle El, who caught five passes for 149 yards and a TD and
also threw his first career TD. "You can have all the ability in
the world but if you don't have to the poise to do it, it won't
Roethlisberger, who has not lost in 25 straight college and pro
starts, showed his poise in moving the Steelers from their 33 to
the New York 8 after a Tiki Barber 1-yard run had given New York a
"He has been making good decisions with games on the line,"
coach Bill Cowher said of the 11th pick in the NFL draft. "In the
fourth quarter, he has a feel for the game and an understanding of
the game and he manages it well."
Until Saturday, Manning has struggled in losing his first four
starts. The No. 1 pick in the draft was horrible in his last two
games and seemingly had lost his confidence.
Using a game plan filled with plays he liked, Manning found
himself against the NFL's top-ranked defense. He threw two
touchdown passes and set up Barber's go-ahead touchdown with three
completions of 15 yards or more.
"I had fun because we were getting some stuff done," said
Manning, who completed 16 of 23 for 182 yards. "We were making
plays, running the ball, the line was protecting, receivers were
making catching. We got in a rhythm and it was back to playing
football again. It was a good feeling."
Roethlisberger hit five passes of 34 or more yards in a
much-hyped matchup with Manning, who only had one over 20 yards.
The two talked before the game and they congratulated each other
after it was over.
"I don't ever want to remember what it is like to lose," said
Roethlisberger, who also threw two interceptions.
Randle El caught a 35-yard touchdown pass and threw a 10-yard
shovel pass to Verron Haynes for a touchdown. Jeff Reed kicked four
field goals, Hines Ward had nine catches for 134 yards despite
finishing the game with a hip pointer and Bettis ran for 140 yards
for the Steelers.
Manning threw touchdown passes of 2 yards to Jeremy Shockey and
1 yard to Marcellus Rivers. He also hit Amani Toomer with two
17-yard passes and he added a 15-yarder to Ike Hilliard to set up
Barber's go-ahead TD run.
Manning was sacked on a 2-point conversion attempt.
Roethlisberger then sandwiched passes of 9 and 11 yards to Ward
around a dump off to Bettis before hitting Randle El for 36 yards
to the Giants 8. Three straight runs by Bettis got the ball in the
Willie Williams picked off a deep throw to a tripped Toomer on
the next series and the Steelers ran out the clock.
Giants receiver Willie Ponder took the opening kickoff 91 yards
for a score. It was the Giants' first game-opening kickoff return
for a touchdown in a regular-season home game in their 80-year
The Steelers used trickery to tie the game with Randle El making
the shovel pass after taking a lateral from Roethlisberger.
Manning, who had led the Giants to only one touchdown in 45
possessions since replacing Kurt Warner at quarterback, hit Shockey
for a TD on the next series.
Manning gave New York a 24-23 lead with his TD pass to Rivers.
Reed put Pittsburgh ahead 26-24 with is 28-yarder early in the
Steelers RB Duce Staley and WR Plaxico Burress missed
the game with hamstring injuries. ...Bettis set a Steelers' record
with his 48th 100-yard rushing game, one more than Franco Harris
and fifth best in NFL history. ... After New York went six games
without an interception, Frank Walker and former Steeler Brent
Alexander had picks for the Giants. ... The last time the Giants
returned an opening kickoff for a TD in a regular-season game was
Dec. 4, 1966, a 90-yard score by Clarence Childs at Cleveland. It
was the Giants' second kickoff return for TD in three games.
Derrick Ward had one vs. Washington. ... Toomer has catches in 97