EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Sometimes, real life intrudes on the games we play. And sometimes, we need those games to get away from real life.
In the wake of Superstorm Sandy and the destruction it brought to the Northeast, everyone on the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants understood that.
“There are so many bigger things going on around here that what we do is not as important as real life," Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Sunday after throwing for two touchdowns in a 24-20 comeback victory. “My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone else who are going through so much. There were so many emotions going on, I didn’t know what to expect from it. But maybe we were able to take their minds off their problems just a little."
That’s all the local fans sought: temporary relief and the Giants (6-3) provided it for a while. But they couldn’t stop Isaac Redman, who had little relief with Pittsburgh’s other two main backs injured, yet rushed for a career-best 147 yards and the winning 1-yard TD with 4:02 to go as the Steelers rallied from a 20-10 deficit in the fourth quarter.
Overcoming unusual sloppiness, the Steelers (5-3) dominated the second half. They did so after they arrived in New Jersey hours before the game, which might have accounted for their carelessness. They had the fewest giveaways in the NFL entering the game, but were neglectful with the ball and in pass coverage; cornerback Keenan Lewis had 87 yards on two pass interference penalties. They wasted some great kick returns, too.
The Steelers’ long day began with a plane ride to New Jersey, a short side trip to their team hotel — they couldn’t get enough rooms to stay in the area on Saturday night and needed a league travel waiver to arrive on game day — then on to the stadium. Outside, folks tailgated and tried to blunt some of the devastation from the week’s superstorm. As Giants fan Courtney Davis, whose town of Sea Bright was washed away by Hurricane Sandy, said in response to holding the game: “We need this."
“Coming in the day of the game was tough and we had to deal with that adversity," Redman said. “But the Giants had to deal with adversity all week. We just had to come in here and be ready to play.
The Giants saw their four-game winning streak end. They seemed in control as Michael Boley sprinted 70 yards with a fumble recovery in the second quarter for a 14-7 lead.
Among Pittsburgh’s gaffes: a fake field goal from the New York 3 early in the fourth quarter on which kicker Shaun Suisham lost a yard. That wasted a 63-yard punt return by Sanders on his first such runback all season.
Eli Manning threw for only 125 yards in one of the worst games of his career.
Also on Sunday:
INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Luck broke the NFL’s single-game rookie record by throwing for 433 yards in leading Indianapolis. Luck was 30 of 48 with two TDs. Indy (5-3) has won three straight.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Rookie Doug Martin rushed for a franchise-record 251 yards and four touchdowns and Ahmad Black intercepted a Carson Palmer pass after Oakland had cut an 18-point deficit to three late in the fourth quarter. Martin, the 31st pick in April out of Boise State, became the first back since at least 1940 to score on three TD runs of at least 45 yards in one game, according to STATS LLC.
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Tom Crabtree had a 72-yard touchdown that was Green Bay’s longest of the season, and Randall Cobb added two scoring catches. The Packers (6-3) finished with a season-high 176 yards rushing.
HOUSTON — Matt Schaub threw two touchdown passes and Arian Foster ran for 111 yards against Buffalo’s NFL-worst rushing defense. Andre Johnson caught eight passes for 118 yards and Foster scored for the fifth straight game for Houston (7-1).
LANDOVER, Md. — Cam Newton completed 13 of 23 passes for 201 yards with a touchdown and ran eight times for 37 yards and a score as Carolina snapped a five-game losing streak.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Brian Urlacher became the latest Chicago defender to return an interception for a touchdown and Jay Cutler threw three TD passes to Brandon Marshall. Cornerback Charles Tillman forced four fumbles and Chicago created five turnovers while winning its sixth in a row.
SEATTLE — Marshawn Lynch ran for 124 yards and a touchdown, rookie QB Russell Wilson threw three first-half touchdowns, and Seattle overcame 182 yards rushing by Adrian Peterson.
CINCINNATI — Peyton Manning overcame a pair of interceptions by throwing three touchdown passes. Trindon Holliday also returned a kickoff a Broncos-record 105 yards for a touchdown.
CLEVELAND — Joe Flacco threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith with 4:26 left as Baltimore won its 11th straight game inside the AFC North.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Mikel Leshoure ran for three touchdowns, Calvin Johnson got involved early and Detroit (4-4) turned in its most complete victory of the season.
ATLANTA — Michael Turner had a tiebreaking 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, Matt Bryant kicked four field goals and the Falcons beat Dallas to extend their run as the NFL’s only unbeaten team.