Rapid Reaction: Steelers 24, Giants 20

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

What it means: The end of a four-game winning streak and a poor start to the second half of the season after the Giants' standard 6-2 start. This loss in their ninth game of the season will raise easy questions about the Giants' record in the second halves of their seasons during the Tom Coughlin era, but of greater concern is that they appeared to lose the physical battles up front on offense and especially on defense for most of this game.

Superman slumping? This was the fourth consecutive game in which Giants quarterback Eli Manning saw his passer rating drop. It was 103.3 in the Week 5 victory over Cleveland, 87.4 in Week 6 in San Francisco, 78.9 in Week 7 against the Redskins, 58.4 last week in Dallas and 41.1 on Sunday against the Steelers. Manning has thrown four interceptions and one touchdown pass in his last three games. He looks surprisingly jittery in the pocket and he's missing open receivers with his throws. Without Manning at his best, the Giants cannot expect to compete with the league's best teams. The Giants were 2-for-10 on third-down conversion attempts Sunday.

Soft in the middle: The Steelers ran the ball up the gut all day against the Giants with Isaac Redman, who's basically their third-string running back. It was not a banner day for Mark Herzlich, who got the first start of his career in place of injured middle linebacker Chase Blackburn. The Steelers seemed to spot a weakness in the Giants' defense in the middle of the field, and they were able to reliably take advantage of it.

A little help: The Giants' 14-10 halftime lead came with a lot of help from their opponent. The Steelers racked up 87 yards' worth of pass interference penalties in the first half, and a personal foul penalty by Ryan Clark in the end zone on third down set up the Giants' first touchdown. Once the breaks stopped going the Giants' way, the Steelers were able to take control of the game in the second half as the Giants were unable to get their offense going.

What's next: The Giants travel to Cincinnati where they will play the Bengals at 1 p.m. ET next Sunday. The Bengals have lost four games in a row after a 3-1 start and have allowed a total of 106 points in those four games.