The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the second half of their preseason opener with a 13-3 deficit, the only points coming on the opening drive led by Ben Roethlisberger‘s only possession. The New York Giants quickly retaliated with a long touchdown run before tacking on two field goals, with Shaun Suisham going 1-for-2 in that department.
Dri Archer once again was prevented from returning a kickoff on the Giants’ fourth attempt. Landry Jones came out to start the half, going with a handoff to Jordan Hall on first down for about a yard. Hall’s second carry up the middle set up third and seven. On third down, Jones ripped off a pass to Martavis Bryant which fell complete, but Jayson Hosley was flagged for pass interference.
On first down, Jones ran a bootleg, but was chased down by Israel Idonije, forcing the second-year quarterback to toss the ball away. Jones threw the ball away after play action wasn’t enough to fend off pressure on second down. On third and 10, the Steelers’ draw was blown up. Brad Wing‘s first punt of the second half was much better, traveling 52 yards with a 12-yard return.
Josh Mauro nearly caught the running back from behind near the line of scrimmage for first down, but the play went for five yards. On second down, Ryan Nassib‘s low throw was picked up for a new set of downs. Kendall Gaskins picked up four yards up the middle on the next play, followed by a first-down reception from Julian Talley.
Shamarko Thomas brought Gaskins down for a loss of three, but a 10-yard pickup by Talley set up a manageable third down. Brice McCain broke up the third-down pass. Bryant was back to receive the punt, which was downed near the goal line, but a flag on Arthur Moats after the punt resulted in backing the Steelers up even further.
Hall picked up a yard to the six on first down, followed by a Jones completion to Derek Moye that picked up five for a manageable third down attempt. Unfortunately, Guy Whimper was beaten off the edge by Damontre Moore, who pressured Jones into an incompletion. Wing’s second punt of the half was a boomer that was muffed by Charles James, which allowed Howard Jones to recover it. Tauren Poole helped the cause.
Jones’ pass to Miguel Maysonet could not be caught, but a holding call on Cody Wallace would have negated it anyway. Now on first and 20 from the 31, Jones felt the pressure and threw the ball into the turf. On second and long, Jones zipped a short pass to Moye for a six-yard completion, setting up a third and 16, but within field goal range. The quarterback checked down to David Paulson, who was stopped well short of the first by Hosley. Suisham hit on his first field goal attempt of the half to bring the Steelers’ deficit to within 13-6.
On the Giants’ following possession, Gaskins was good for seven yards on first down. Nassib appeared to have room to scramble on the next play, but he forced an incompletion down the field. On third down, Josh Mauro pushed a running back into Nassib’s face and forced a throwaway. Bryant muffed the ensuing punt, but recovered.
Maysonet carried on first down for two yards, and on second down was stuck by Mark Herzlich for a loss of one. On third and nine, he was dropped for another loss of one. Wing’s ensuing punt was fair caught at the 25 after traveling 42 yards. The defense held strong, forcing a three-and-out after Dan Molls dragged back Michael Cox after a short gain on a draw from third and 11.
Bryant received the 54-yard punt and returned it about three yards. Paulson caught a short, high pass on first down for a short gain. Maysonet did a nice job of eluding Spencer Paysinger off the left edge to crawl for a first down. Jones launched one deep in Bryant’s direction, who nearly came back to adjust for the ball, but Hosley was flagged for pass interference, resulting in a net gain of 47 yards.
From the 18-yard line, Maysonet was targeted with a quick pass out of the backfield, but Hosley was quick to get there to join man and ball and break up the connection. On second down, Justin Brown sat down for a gain of four. The third down and six play was too high, targeting Moye, and the Steelers settled for another field goal to come to within 13-9.
Nassib remained in to begin the fourth quarter for the Giants. Play action bought him time down the field, but Isaiah Green was there to break up the pass to Mario Manningham. There was little room for Cox on second down. On third and eight, Nassib checked down to Cox, who just got the necessary yardage to convert.
Nick Williams got in on a tackle with Daniel McCullers on first down for a gain of one. Green allowed a reception in front of him for a first down. After little progress on the next two plays, a third and eight pass was batted down near the line by Vic So’oto. Howard scooped it up and returned it for a touchdown. The second fumble recovery for the fringe outside linebacker trying to make the roster as an undrafted free agent. Good way for So’oto to open some eyes as well.
Curtis Painter entered the game for the Giants following the turnover and score. From the 20-yard line, Gaskins reversed field to turn nothing into a four-yard gain to the left side. He eluded a tackle for a gain of eight on the following play. McCullers helped bring down Cox for no gain to set up second and 10. Green wrapped up the receiver after a completion near the first-down marker. On first down, Painter again found a receiver in front of Green for a good chunk. He was beaten on a slant for a new set of downs.
Jordan Dangerfield brought the receiver down on the next play after a gain of six. On second and four, Painter checked down to tight end Adrien Robinson for another first down. A blitz left the right side of the field open for a running back screen to Gaskins, who nearly scored on a, 18-yard hookup. The defense held strong on first down, allowing no push near the goal line.
On second and goal from the three, with some players higher up the depth chart reinserted for the stand, Dangerfield brought Cox down after filling his hole. On third and goal, Painter’s fade to Corey Washington was complete for the score over Green. The six-inch height difference was a factor here as the Giants took a 20-16 lead with under three minutes remaining.
Trying for a comeback, Jones hit Moye on first down for a six-yard pickup. He found Moye in space further down the field for 14 yards to move the chains. From the 41, Jones launched one deep in Bryant’s direction, but the pass landed out of reach. Jones overthrew Moye down the middle of the field, and the pass was nearly intercepted. The ball may have gone through the receiver’s hands. On third down, Jones was brought down and fumbled the ball. The Giants nearly recovered, but the ball continued to fall forward and the Steelers recovered.
Pittsburgh got a reprieve with a defensive holding call down the field, which gave the Steelers a new set of downs at the two-minute warning at mid-field. On first down, Jones checked down to Josh Harris for about four yards. On second down, the rookie back couldn’t hold on to the ball on a similar play. Now third and six, a pass in Bryant’s direction was a bit behind, and the rookie receiver couldn’t bring it in.
Bryant did catch the fourth-down pass for the first down, but he coughed it up, and Terrell Manning recovered for the Giants, essentially ending the game. Bryant tried to get up with the ball, but safety C.J. Barnett got his hand on the ball to knock it loose. A metaphor for the inevitable ups and downs of a raw but talented player?