It had been since 2019 the National Football League had a preseason game. In 2021, with the official preseason cut from four to three games, the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers stayed with four exhibition games. That fourth game was the annual Hall of Fame game which takes place in Canton, OH to kickoff the preseason.
With both teams brimming with potential, their veterans were nothing but onlookers Thursday night, but that didn’t mean there weren’t players fighting for their professional lives.
The Steelers received the football to start the game, and that meant the offense took the field, even though Ben Roethlisberger and several others were watching instead of playing. With Mason Rudolph under center, the Steelers had a balanced approach which took them into Dallas territory. But after several Najee Harris runs, and a Chase Claypool third down reception, Rudolph’s handoff to Claypool on an end around was fumbled and recovered by Dallas.
With a short field, the Cowboys’ offense was able to create push along the offensive line, and it eventually put them in a first and goal situation. However, the Pittsburgh pass rush, mainly Alex Highsmith, stalled the drive and forced a 29 yard field goal.
Second-year breakout candidate Alex Highsmith already off to a HOT start— PFF (@PFF) August 6, 2021
Hunter Niswander’s kick was good, giving the Cowboys an early 3-0 lead.
The Steelers’ ensuing drive saw the Steelers pick up a first down with a Harris run, but a third down pass sailed right through Chase Claypool’s hands resulting in Pressley Harvin’s first action as a professional.
Dallas took over at their own 10-yard line, and at the end of the first quarter the drive had moved into Pittsburgh territory.