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Steelers vs. Giants final score: New York holds off late Pittsburgh rally, Steelers lose 20-16

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Rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant's shaky performance can't outshine the comeback of Steelers linebacker Sean Spence.


It's five consecutive preseason losses for the Steelers.

Maybe more, we didn't bother to look at how the 2012 preseason ended. Mostly because there was enough distraction in Pittsburgh's 20-16 loss to the New York Giants Saturday at MetLife Stadium.

The story began with the comeback of Steelers linebacker Sean Spence, who was the best defensive player on the field, but it ended with the bizarre second half of Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant.

The Steelers rookie taken in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft muffed two punts, dropped a pass and fumbled after a catch late in the game with the Steelers down four and driving. The Giants recovered, and the game was over.

Bryant also drew two defensive pass interference calls in a very shaky and nervous performance.

It was, unfortunately, the most glaring aspect of this game. Spence, though, was sensational, earning a start after the Steelers, as expected, put first-round pick Ryan Shazier on ice for the night.

Spence had four tackles and three quarterback pressures in a quarter and a half of work, sparking a defense that, outside of a 73-yard touchdown by Giants running back Rashad Jennings, played well between their first and second teams.

Jennings touchdown came as Giants quarterback Eli Manning audibled into an inside power run. The Steelers had split Spence outside, leaving just Lawrence Timmons in the box. Defensive end Cameron Heyward couldn't make it down the line and Timmons couldn't make the tackle, leaving Jennings with a huge hole.

The Steelers calmed down throughout the game, and had a chance to win in the fourth quarter. Veteran third-string Giants QB Curtis Painter was 7-for-7 on the Giants' final offensive series, capped off with a beautiful throw to Corey Washington, who caught the touchdown over Steelers cornerback Isaiah Green.

Bryant's string of unsightly play continued at that point. He had already fumbled two punt return opportunities, and after dropping one pass that hit him in the hands (and another that deflected off his outstretched arms), Bryant made a catch on a nice throw from Landry Jones. He got up after going untouched, but was stripped of the ball after taking a step forward.

It's fair to say it was a miserable night for the Steelers rookie.

But not for Spence. Or for wide receiver Markus Wheaton, another player to watch this year. The second-year receiver made a nice catch on a third down pass from Bruce Gradkowski and had a 10-yard gain on an end-around.

Steelers outside linebacker Vic So'oto forced a turnover in the fourth quarter on a batted lateral attempt. Rookie Howard Jones recovered it and ran for a touchdown.

It would be the only Steelers touchdown of the game.