What Went Right, Wrong at Giants

Posted Aug 9, 2014

The highs and lows of the Steelers' first preseason game at the New York Giants.

* The Giants won the toss and elected to receive, but the Steelers defense came on and posted a three-and-out to open the game. After an incomplete pass, ILB Sean Spence made a tackle after a short run, and then after an encroachment penalty on Stephon Tuitt, Spence’s pressure on Eli Manning helped to force an incomplete pass.

* Dri Archer made an impact on his very first offensive touch as a professional football player. After two runs by Le’Veon Bell gained 17 yards on the Steelers’ first offensive possession, Archer lined up in the slot and took a quick pass from Ben Roethlisberger. Archer found a seam and raced for 46 yards before being shoved out of bounds by CB Prince Amukamara.

* Brad Wing’s first NFL punt traveled only 23 yards, but since it came from the Giants 35-yard line, the result was a downed ball at the New York 12-yard line.

* On the Giants’ first offensive snap after Wing’s punt, Jarvis Jones beat his man to the inside and sacked Eli Manning for an 8-yard loss. Two plays later, New York punted for the second time in the first quarter.

* The Giants were limited to minus-8 net yards passing in the first quarter. They also were 0-for-2 on third downs, and managed only one first down – that coming on the 73-yard touchdown run by Rashad Jennings.

* The Steelers’ inserted their second-unit on defense early in the second quarter, and even though the unit posted a three-and-out in its first action, the Giants extended their lead to 10-3 with a 45-yard field goal set up by that 21-yard punt by Brad Wing. Good job by the defense to come up with a strong series following the short punt.

* On a third-and-1 from midfield, Bruce Gradkowski threw a pretty pass to Markus Wheaton for a 28-yard gain to the Giants 22-yard line. It was a nice route by Wheaton, and Gradkowski dropped the ball in nicely over the defender.

* It was the kind of play Troy Polamalu might have made. On a first-and-10 from the Steelers 47-yard line, Giants QB Ryan Nassib threw a quick swing pass to RB Kendall Gaskins, and Shamarko Thomas closed quickly from his safety position and dumped Gaskins for a 3-yard loss with a crisp open-field tackle.

* After a 46-yard punt by Brad Wing, Charles James muffed the ball, and he was tackled out of the play by Tauren Poole. That gave Howard Jones a shot at the bouncing ball, and he recovered for the Steelers at the Giants 21-yard line. It was the Steelers first takeaway of this preseason. It resulted in a 38-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham that cut the deficit to 13-6 with 6:14 left in the third quarter.

* Vic So’oto got good penetration on an attempted swing pass from QB Ryan Nassib to RB Thomas Gordon, and he batted the ball when it arrived at the receiver. Ruled a lateral and therefore a fumble and a live ball, Howard Jones scooped it up and ran 28 yards for the touchdown that gave the Steelers a 16-13 lead with 10:16 left in the fourth quarter.

* Red zone efficiency. After Dri Archer’s 46-yard catch-and-run gave the Steelers a first down at the Giants’ 14-yard line, LeGarrette Blount carried twice for 7 yards to set up a third-and-3. But Ben Roethlisberger’s attempt for Lance Moore in the corner of the end zone fell incomplete, and the Steelers settled for a 26-yard field goal from Shaun Suisham.

* The Steelers defense allowed 17 plays of 40-or-more yards during the 2013 season, and this year the first big play came on the fourth snap of the preseason. With the Steelers in their nickel defense – no nose tackle in the game – RB Rashad Jennings split linebackers Lawrence Timmons and Vince Williams and sprinted 73 yards for the touchdown that gave the Giants a 7-3 lead.

* Brad Wing sure seemed to have the backspin working on his punts, but to his detriment on his second attempt. With the line of scrimmage at the Pittsburgh 14-yard line, Wing’s second punt ended up being downed by Matt Spaeth at the Steelers 35-yard line.

* Another scoring opportunity squandered. After Bruce Gradkowski connected with Markus Wheaton on a 28-yard pass down to the Giants 22-yard line, a short run left the Steelers with a second-and-8 from the 20-yard line. Gradkowski then threw high and behind Will Johnson for one incompletion, and then he overthrew Matt Spaeth at the 5-yard line. Shaun Suisham then was wide right on a 38-yard field goal attempt.

* Through the first three quarters, the Steelers had converted 2-of-11 (18 percent) on third downs. That kills any hope for anything resembling sustained offense.

* Following Howard Jones’ fumble return for a touchdown, the Giants followed with a 12-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 3-yard pass from Curtis Painter to Corey Washington. The touchdown came on a third-and-goal play in which Washington used his height to make the catch over CB Isaiah Green.

* The Steelers final attempt at pulling out a victory ended after a 19-yard completion to Martavis Bryant from Landry Jones that converted a fourth-and-6 from the Giants 48-yard line. Bryant fumbled after the catch, and Terrell Manning recovered to seal the Giants’ win.