EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants and Steelers are two of the most storied franchises in the NFL. They are also two of the most successful, having won four of the past seven Super Bowls.
But Steelers coach Mike Tomlin isn't wrapped up in comparing the two organizations.
"I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it, no," Tomlin said Wednesday on a conference call with New York reporters. "I obviously see potentially how one could talk about some of the similarities, but we don't play them that often."
It's hard to develop a rivalry when you only play an opponent once every four years. The Giants and Steelers have played just twice since quarterbacks Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger both entered the league in 2004.
On Oct. 26, 2008, the Giants defeated the Steelers 21-14 in Pittsburgh. Manning led the Giants on one of his now-patented game-winning drives in the fourth quarter. Roethlisberger threw four interceptions and was sacked three times by Mathias Kiwanuka.
On Dec. 18, 2004, the Steelers defeated the Giants 33-30 at Giants Stadium. Manning played well in just his fifth NFL start, but Roethlisberger was better, throwing for 316 yards and leading a game-winning drive of his own.
The series returns to the Meadowlands on Sunday afternoon. "We know it's going to be tough, going to New York and playing the Giants at their place," said Roethlisberger, also on a conference call with New York reporters Wednesday.
The Steelers currently stand 4-3 on the season -- in second place in the AFC North, one game behind the Ravens. They've won two games in a row, but are just 1-3 on the road this year.
Tomlin doesn't think playing away from home has been the problem. "I don’t necessarily want to equate it to venue -- I just don't think that we've been consistent in performance," Tomlin said. "Thankfully in recent weeks I think we've been moving in the right direction in that regard, but we'll continue to write that story as we move forward. This is a big challenge in front of us this week."
Pittsburgh is ranked No. 2 in the NFL in total defense (274.1 yards per game), and No. 1 in passing defense (182.6). But Tomlin knows his team has its work cut out for them against the Giants' aerial attack, the sixth-best in the league (282.1).
"I think their play-action pass game is very good. I think Eli throws a very good deep ball, he puts the ball in very playable position. I think their wideouts, the entire group collectively, does a nice job of making plays on balls down the field," said Tomlin. "It's all of em -- it's (Victor) Cruz, it's (Hakeem) Nicks, it's (Domenik) Hixon, and even (Ramses) Barden and others when given an opportunity.
"That's a challenge, because when you're getting yards in chunks, of course that eliminates a lot of execution."
As for the Giants' defense, Roethlisberger sees a challenge ahead, too.
"They've got a crazy amount of turnovers, interceptions. I think that (credit) usually goes to the back end, the guys intercepting it, the DBs and stuff," Roethlisberger said. "But I think you have to give a lot of credit, and we're gonna give a lot of attention to, the front four -- and really the front six or seven that they rotate in and linebackers -- because they're the ones that create a lot of those turnovers with pressure on the quarterback."
Giants versus Steelers. Manning versus Roethlisberger. Rivalry or not, it's must-see TV.