The wait from 2016 AFC Championship defeat to 2017 preseason was long and arduous for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but on Friday night the team got back to playing football when they traveled to East Rutherford, NJ to play the New York Giants in Week 1 of the preseason at Metlife Stadium.
Before the game even began, the Steelers knew they would be relying on backups and rookies to represent the team, and organization, with pride. Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, James Harrison and a slew of banged up players sported casual clothes on the sideline, while Joshua Dobbs and T.J. Watt were on the field trying to make a name for themselves as professionals.
As is typical, rookie performances either swung from the good, to the bad. T.J. Watt, the team’s prized draft pick, started with two sacks on back-to-back plays in the first quarter, but a Joshua Dobbs interception to Valentino, formerly known as Antwon, Blake led to a Giants field goal and an early 3-0 lead.
To start the second quarter, Dobbs was picked off for a second time as he didn’t read the underneath coverage and was off to the races. The Pittsburgh red-zone defense held strong for the second time, and another Dobbs interception equated to another Giants field goal, and a 6-0 lead.
After Dobbs and the offense failed to even gain a first down through a quarter and a half, it was Dobbs’ athleticism which resulted in the first first down for the Steelers offense. Shortly after the rookie quarterback hit Cobi Hamilton for a 44-yard strike and resulted in a Chris Boswell 48-yard field goal to cut the lead in half.
After a 52-yard Giants field goal, the trend of the first half of points off of turnovers continued. With the Giants scoring 6-points off two Dobbs’ interceptions, a muffed Giants’ punt return resulted in a Mike Hilton recovery with 33-seconds left in the first half. The next play Dobbs hit Cobi Hamilton with a touchdown strike, to give the Steelers a 10-9 lead as they headed into halftime.
The Giants received the second half kickoff, and Geno Smith continued to move the ball down the field. However, their trend of settling for field goals continued and tacked on just three more points to re-take the lead 12-10.
It wasn’t until Geno Smith threw a perfect pass to Arthur Moats where the Steelers offense was threatening with points. Dobbs hit Xavier Grimble for a touchdown pass, but the play was called back due to offensive holding. The team would have to settle for another Boswell field goal, and take a 13-12 lead with 4:02 left in the third quarter.
The Steelers weren’t done there, and road Terrell Watson down the field and into the endzone for the Steelers touchdown. The score, followed by a Boswell point-after, equated to a 20-12 Pittsburgh lead.
It was the rookies who led the way for the Steelers. Joshua Dobbs recovered nicely after a horrible start, T.J. Watt looked as advertised as an athletic linebacker and Mike Hilton continues to impress every time he is on the field.
The Steelers 20-12 win over the Giants moves their preseason record to 1-0. The Steelers will play their next preseason game at Heinz Field in Week 2 when the NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons come to town. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC all week as you get the best, and most in-depth, Steelers coverage on the internet!