Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks pleaded through the media for holding calls against the Steelers defense this week.
They haven’t gotten any of those, but each Giants receiver drew a flag on a touchdown drive that tied the game at seven in the second quarter. Steelers cornerback Keenan Lewis was flagged for pass interference on a deep throw to Nicks that gave the Giants 41 yards and put them in scoring position. It wasn’t an egregious mugging by Lewis by any means and might not have even been interference, but was still better than a call on Ryan Clark that set up Andre Brown’s eventual touchdown.
On third and goal, Eli Manning threw to Cruz in the end zone on the run. Ike Taylor almost had his second interception of the game, but the ball bounced out of his hands as Ryan Clark hit Cruz in the left arm with his shoulder on a pretty much technically perfect hit behind Taylor. The officials disagreed, calling Clark for a hit to the head of Cruz that gave the ball to the Giants just outside the end zone. That part of the call was wrong and any attempt to say it was actually a late hit is undermined by the fact that the ball was still in the air after being deflected by Taylor at the time.
Cruz went down hard and wound up staying down, the first part of which likely contributed to a call that has put the Giants back into a tie at the Meadowlands.
UPDATE 5:31 p.m. ET: Michael Boley just returned what the refs are calling a fumble 70 yards to put the Giants ahead 14-7. There’s a bit more doubt on this call, but it certainly appears Roethlisberger’s arm was moving forward with the ball when the ball came out and the play could have been ruled an incomplete pass. NBC officiating consultant Jim Daopoulos believes it should have been called an incomplete pass and there also appeared to be a block in the back on Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul that went uncalled. It’s been an interesting day for referee Bill Leavy’s crew to say the least.
UPDATE 5:39 p.m. ET: The “hit to the head” on Cruz has left him with a rib injury. That must have been some blow to the head. Cruz is probable to return.