Steelers vs Giants – First Half Recap

The Pittsburgh Steelers unveiled their new-look roster for the 2014 season tonight against the New York Giants in the first football game in far too long. There’s a bit of a damper on the proceedings with heralded rookie first-rounder Ryan Shazier out for the game, but nothing can take away the feelgoodness of Sean Spence’s first game in almost two years, who started in the rookie’s place at inside linebacker.

The Giants received the ball first, and Howard Jones helped bring down the returner prior to the 20-yard line. Eli Manning tried to find Jerrel Jernigan on first down, but the pair couldn’t hook up. Spence was able to take down the back on second down for a short gain. Rookie Stephon Tuitt was caught by a hard count on third down to set up third down and two, but nothing was open for Manning on the play and the Giants were forced to punt.

Dri Archer was back to return the punt, but he could only call for a fair catch. Ben Roethlisberger took over from his own 23 and handed it off to Le’Veon Bell on first down, who broke a tackle near the line of scrimmage to gain nine. On second and one, Bell easily and patiently hit his hole for another nice gain of eight yards for the first first down of the game.

The Steelers went five wide on first down and Roethlisberger looked to Archer out of the slot, who took the screen and followed a serpentine path for a gain of 46. LeGarrette Blount took the ball to the 10-yard line after a five-yard pickup on the ensuing first down. After a gain of one by Blount, Roethlisberger could not hook up on a fade to Lance Moore for the score with tight coverage by Walter Thurmond IIIShaun Suisham gave the Steelers a 3-0 lead.

Suisham’s second kickoff was (presumably) deliberately short, but allowed the Giants to set themselves up in respectable field position after a three-and-out. Rashad Jennings burst through a hole in the middle of the defense on first down for the long touchdown. Mike Tomlin was not happy. Cameron Heyward was sealed, and Lawrence Timmons appeared to have gotten held on the 73-yard run.

Archer’s first attempt at a kick return had to be delayed, as the kick went out of bounds. Bruce Gradkowski took over for Roethlisberger after the opening scoring drive. Bell gained just one on first down. Gradkowski hooked up with Antonio Brown for a short gain of four to set up third and five. A defensive holding call gave the Steelers a first down.

Markus Wheaton took an end around on first down and gained a healthy chunk of yards, but Ramon Foster was injured on the play. Chris Hubbard entered the game to replace him. Foster appeared to have bee hit in the eye. On first down, Gradkowski found Brown down the field while getting hit resulting in a gain of 16.

Blount worked up the middle for a gain of about three to the Giants’ 40 on the ensuing first down. Heath Miller slipped out for the pass on second down, but safety Antrel Rolle saw the play and blew up the tight end for a loss of one. on third and eight, Gradkowski hit Bell for six, short of the first. Brad Wing‘s punt from the 35 bounced within the five but bounced back out to the 12 before being downed.

Jarvis Jones sacked Manning for a loss of eight on first down to set up second and 18 from their own four for the Giants. Tuitt was in on a tackle with Jason Worilds after a gain of three, yielding way to a third and 15. A draw picked up five to set up breathing room for a punt.

Archer’s second punt return resulted in no gain after he was plastered by the long snapper. Shaquille Richardson helped shield the initial gunner that allowed Archer to return it at all.

From the 49, Tauren Poole slipped on the first-down carry, but an illegal use of hands penalty on Jason Pierre-Paul gave the Steelers a first down. Mike Adams was in at left tackle, along with the rest of the second-team offensive line. Poole’s first official carry went for one yard along the right side. His second carry gained four to set up a third and five, which was a Gradkowski scramble for a first down that was taken back due to a holding call on Bryant Browning. After a throw away following pressure, Wing’s second punt was fair caught at the 24. A penalty on Spence moved the ball up to the 29.

With Manning still in, Jennings was wrestled down by Timmons and Cam Thomas after a short gain. Andre Williams was wrestled down again by Spence, but the Giants were penalized for holding anyway. On second and 18, Manning handed off to Williams on a draw, picking up a big gain, but another holding call brought the ball back to set up a second and 23. A false start made it second and 28. Mike Mitchell delivered a big hit at the end of a nine-yard gain. On third and 19, another draw came up well short of a first down.

Archer’s third return attempt moved laterally a decent bit, but forward just three yards after a deep punt. From the 15, Gradkowski was dropped on a safety blitz for a loss of five. Jordan Hall was dropped for no gain to set up third and 15. Gradkowski’s pass to Archer was caught, but for just four yards. Wing’s punt took an awful bounce forward that resulted in a net of just 21.

Terence Garvin brought down Williams on first down after a short gain. Shamarko Thomas came up nicely to fill the hole and make the tackle on second down to set up third and two. Ryan Nassib got hit has he threw on third down, resulting in a 45-yard field goal to being the score to 10-3.

The Giants’ second kickoff went through the end zone, so no return for Archer. Justin Brown reached behind him to haul in a five-yard pass from Gradkowski to the 25-yard line. on second and five, Gradkowski went deep, and Zack Bowman was flagged for illegal contact on the play. Poole found some room around the edge for seven yards to set up second and three. Hall’s two-yard tote up the middle set up third and one. Poole had no trouble converting for the Steelers’ first successful third down of the night.

After a short completion to Hall, Gradkowski and Brown could not connect, with the quarterback looking for the receiver to continue his route deeper downfield. An neutral zone infraction set up third and two, on which the quarterback was able to find Wheaton down the field for 28 yards. From the 22, Gradkowski handed off to Poole for two. Will Johnson let a slightly high pass go off his fingers, but it fell incomplete. On third and long, Gradkowski overthrew Matt Spaeth for a sure touchdown. Suisham’s field goal attempt was just right.

On second down, Arthur Moats dragged down the receiver a yard shy of the first down. Fullback John Conner converted on the next play. Robert Golden brought down the tight end after a gain of nine. On second and one, Nassib converted for another new set of downs and a two-minute warning.

Vince Williams brought down the running back Williams on first down after a gain of one. Thomas brought down the receiver to set up third down with 1:19 to play in the half. The Steelers showed blitz but Nassib hit Rueben Randle for 13. In the no huddle, Nassib went back to Randle, but the receiver couldn’t hold on to the quick pass. From the 28, Chris Carter beat the left tackle around the edge to force Nassib down, throwing an incompletion. On third down, the quarterback looked for his tight end down the seam, but couldn’t get extended. Garvin was in on the coverage. Another field goal extended the Giant’s halftime lead to 13-3.

Archer’s final return attempt before the half resulted in a kneel down for a touchback. He picked up for about eight yards on two handoffs out of the backfield to close the half.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Paddy

    Spence looks good, but I was watching him on each play. Adams got blown out by NY DE . RBs look good

  • SteelCitysFinest

    Timmons couldn’t get off of a couple of blocks but I agree he may have been held. Spence looked great .

  • kakello34

    They might need to bring in more completion for Wing. He looks terrible

  • Big White

    Spence looked great. Wheaton will have a 1000 yard season. Shamarko Thomas with two huge hits. Mauro getting nearly 3 quarters of action??? Coaches must want to see more of him.

  • Big White

    Moats could be a great pickup for depth.

  • Aric Brown

    His last punt was nice.. a 51 yarder with good hangtime.. maybe just had the jitters

  • Labrat0116

    Outstanding write up on short notice Matthew!

  • WilliamSekinger

    JJ looked good in limited playing time.

  • Big White

    Why is Martavius returning kicks? Um no.

  • kakello34

    Mauro looked good on that last series

  • ApexSteel

    These backup linemen are awful.

  • Aric Brown

    Bryant is NOT a punt returner

  • Big White

    Landry Jones couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. I’ve never seen worse accuracy.

  • Aric Brown

    Isiah Green is getting chewed up

  • Aric Brown

    He is terrible… look for the Steelers to draft another QB next year or the year after at the latest

  • steeltown

    one bad punt, overall a decent game IMO

  • Paddy

    Landry Jones was a waste of a pick, he has no poise. The Giants clearly have better reserves and backup QBs

  • steeltown

    The backup OL is terrible not giving him any time and the WRs are dropping catchable balls… just sayin

  • steeltown

    Spence, VW and Howard Jones are making some plays. Jarvis with a nice sack and Archer looks electric, but that 2nd string OL looked awful and Isaiah Green had a rough night

  • Steelers12328882

    Never? That’s a bit dramatic.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Wasn’t a bad showing overall, given that the first team defense and offense played only a few series, and the second team was playing against the Giants first team for most of the 1st quarter.

  • steelersfan

    dri archer looks promising, was happy to see jarvis jones get that sack, sean spence was great as was shamarko. Other than that though there is a lot of work to be done…who knows what would have happened if shazier and polamalu had been in on that touchdown run but that has definitely planted some seeds of doubt for me – first preseason game i know but it reminded me of last year.

  • Big White

    Somebody get Charlie Batch on the horn.

  • Zurich1012

    There were several positive things in this game. Spence is our current Rocky Blier. What an amazing story! I really hope things go well enough luck wise that he can stay healthy. But Landry Jones couldn’t hit the Ocean if he were standing at the very bottom. I dont care if he was a fourth rounder he needs to go on the first cuts. He makes TIm Tebow look like Joe Montana.

  • Big White

    McCullers will make the final roster. He may not be polished, but putting him on the PS makes him available to other teams. That’s not going to happen.

  • Big White

    In defense of Isiah Green. The touchdown was a perfect throw and he contested just about every ball thrown at him and at least played tight.

  • frednash

    agree

  • Michel Smiffi

    He completely sucked. The TD was just horrible position as he opened up about 5 or 6 yards of open field towards the sidelines. And he got picked apart the entire time. Every time he was on the field, the QB did’nt even look to another direction. You can’t allow the QB being like 6 of 7 against you.

  • Aric Brown

    You guys remember that guy a couple months ago telling us all how Landry Jones was going to show how good he was this year and Big Ben wasn’t being extended because Landry was initiating phase one of his Steelers takeover this year? Wonder where he’s at tonight

  • Aric Brown

    Green was absolutely terrible… on the touchdown he looked completely lost as if he knew the ball was coming but had no idea what to do about it

  • Aric Brown

    the biggest positive I’ve taken out of this is Sean Spence is going to be a helluva football player

  • Big White

    Wrong. He was there, you can’t defend a perfectly thrown ball. Corners get beat for catches and even TD’s. What you want to see is that the guy was in position first. Then the awareness will come.

  • Big White

    Gents. It’s the 1st preaseson game and his first minutes. Everyone take a deep breath. He’s not a Week 1 starter for crying out loud. I saw William Gay get picked on, Tim Mckyer, Chad Scott, etc etc.

  • Aric Brown

    I’m not sayin he wasn’t there he just looked confused as to how to defend the pass… Your a supporter for Green.. I get it.. but let’s not pretend he looked good out there

  • Zurich1012

    The chemistry on Defense is going to take time to develop. The offense is going to need to score consistently to give the Steelers any chance of going 9-7 or better especially in the early part of the season. There have been so many changes and its not going to just all fit and work perfectly.

    That being said, the Steelers need to go with 2 QB’s or start looking for the third. Landry Jones shouldn’t be on this roster to save face because he was a fourth round pick. I wouldn’t even waste anymore time giving him any reps in practice or games because its a waste of valuable time.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I have to be fair and say that I rewatched some of his throws, and the misses to Bryant and Moye were more on the receivers. Sometimes it’s hard to digest the nuance live, especially when you’re writing it up simultaneously.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Also: Green is 5’10”. Corey Washington is 6’4″.

  • Matthew Marczi

    It seemed to be the consensus coming into this game among the beat writers that they’re not cutting him, and I didn’t see anything to make me disagree last night.

  • Big White

    He thinks while he throws. That’s the problem. There has to be some instinctive physical athletic talent on display. If Landry Jones can’t throw he’s not only expendable, but a liability. Not a fan of his elusiveness..

  • Steve

    Gradkoski was not much better. Sure TD with Justin Brown way overthrows the pass. Grad reminds me of Bubby Brister and throws off his back foot and does not step into the pass. Sure hope at this point Ben don’t get hurt.

  • Steve

    Spence had a very nice night, it’s good to see him back.

  • WIINGY

    I hope their plan isn’t to throw fades to lance Moore in the end zone.

  • Big White

    I’ve seen the exact same thing out of Ike Taylor for a decade. Miinus an easy catch in Detroit.

  • Big White

    I thought I was gonna see slow, lethargic, cumbersome from the reports I had heard on him. He moves really well. Upside isn’t the proper word for what could be. Liked the KDKA call tonight, They really touched on his time at a Military JC prior to Tennessee learning self discipline and such. I think as of right now, he’s your 2nd Nosetackle. The Steelers are in good spot with this roster and can/should take risks.

  • kakello34

    #6 I definitely agree with

  • Aric Brown

    Id love an Ike Taylor 2.0