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Steelers film breakdown: Impressive goal line stand highlights defensive effort against Giants

The Steelers didn't allow poor field position, or the fact it was the preseason, prevent them from playing outstanding goal line defense in their 18-13 loss to the Giants.

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers got pinned deep in their own territory after the Giants blocked a punt early in their preseason Week 1 game against the Giants.

The defense's first trip to the field turned out to be the best three-play series their starters would have.

First down

The Steelers are in their goal line defense, facing the Giants' power running formation. Safety Troy Polamalu shadows wide receiver Victor Cruz in tight.

Teams in the past have seen the results of Polamalu being at the line of scrimmage against these kinds of formations, and perhaps in the regular season they won't ask Cruz to block him.

If not, they didn't watch this play.

Cruz isn't even close to in position to block the instinctive Polamalu, who crashes down the line, disrupting the running lane.

At the same time, defensive end Ziggy Hood makes a swift-and-short outside move past the tackle to get in the original running lane. Polamalu clogs the lane from the top and Hood collapses it from the side, giving RB David Wilson nowhere to go but outside.

Cornerback Ike Taylor is right there to funnel Wilson back inside, into the arms of Hood.

Hood pursues him down the line, showing impressive agility. Credit Wilson for getting low and driving Hood back to the line of scrimmage, but the play is a big win for the Steelers' defense.

Second Down

Eschewing the run after previous failure, the Giants try to spread the Steelers out a bit. Quarterback Eli Manning sees WR Louis Murphy on Steelers CB Josh Victorian.

Manning isn't looking anywhere else on the snap, and after Hood gets his hands into the initial passing lane, Manning hesitates, and then gets a pass off to Murphy.

Victorian does a great job staying with Murphy, who has a noticeable size advantage. Only a great throw would have beaten him, and it wasn't a great throw. Murphy has no chance, and it falls incomplete.

Third Down

The Giants look to attack the Steelers in a similar fashion - spreading them out - but they're looking for a quick-hitter to the goal line.

Manning is reading slant the whole way, but the big push from Steelers DE Brett Keisel on C David Baas negates Manning's ability to step up and deliver a strong throw.

WR Reuben Randle is covered tightly by Taylor, and perhaps if the official was over a step in either direction, Manning could have led him a little bit more, but the play was designed to use the official as a pick. Manning can't step and fire into that narrow window because Keisel took away that lane. Instead, Manning throws off his back foot, and it falls incomplete.

While Manning has a cannon arm, if he can't deliver that pass with a lot of zip, the chances of it being completed are low.

The Steelers force the field goal, and should gain a lot of confidence in their team goal line defense.

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