T.J. Watt’s NFL start was as good as Josh Dobbs’ was bad. By game’s end, both had evened out in a Pittsburgh Steelers’ 20-12 win over the New York Giants Friday night.
For Watt, he notched sacks on his first two pass rushes. They weren’t the most dominant plays of all-time but in the end, sacks are sacks. For Dobbs, it couldn’t have gone much worse. At one point, he was 1/4 for four yards and two interceptions. The first, an underthrown deep ball picked off by former Steeler
Antwon Valentino Blake. The next, a short throw over the middle where linebacker Devin Taylor stepped in front.
Life got better from there. Dobbs hooked up with Cobi Hamilton for two big gains, including a 28 yard touchdown pass down the right side. The rookie quarterback would finish the day 8/15 for 100 yards, a touchdown, and two picks.
Pittsburgh’s defense, parts of which played into the second quarter, held firm in the end zone. Twice, the Giants marched into red zone. And twice, they settled for a field goal. When they punted, it was usually because of Watt, whose sacks resulted in losses of three and eight yards.
Watt is the first Steeler to record two sacks in a preseason game since Josh Mauro in 2014.
The Steelers first touchdown came way of a special teams gaffe by the Giants. Mike Hilton recovered a Donte Deayon fumble, allowing Dobbs to connect with Hamilton off playaction on the very next play. It gave the Steelers a 10-9 lead heading into halftime.
Fitzgerald Toussaint got the starting nod at running back, carrying the ball six times for 19 yards.
A Giants’ field goal from Mike Nugent quickly reclaimed the lead on their first drive in the second half. After another punt by the Steelers, Giants’ QB Geno Smith looked like a rookie. He promptly tossed a pick to a dropping Arthur Moats, who returned it inside the red zone. Briefly, the Steelers seemed to have scored after Dobbs rolled to his left and threw to the middle for Xavier Grimble in the end zone. But Brian Mihalik was called for holding and the Steelers were forced to settle for a Chris Boswell 37 yard field goal.
Dobbs’ day was spotty, missing too many easy throws and not going through his progressions, he improved as the game went on. His accuracy on the move was evident and at halftime, Mike Tomlin praised the “look in his eye” from Dobbs, implying the moment hadn’t been too big for him.
The rest of the game was much like the rest of opening day preseason football. Uneventful. The Steelers extended their lead early in the 4th quarter on a Terrell Watson 15 yard touchdown, aided by Jake McGee and Matt Feiler’s strong blocks. With that, the Steelers took a 20-12 lead.
Arthur Moats, a veteran, dominated the Giants’ backups. By game’s end, he racked up three sacks to go along with six total tackles and his aforementioned interception. It’s an environment where Moats is supposed to look good but with Keion Adams missing due to a shoulder injury, it certainly doesn’t hurt.
Cornerback Brian Allen had a key breakup late in the fourth quarter to preserve the team’s lead.
The Steelers will play host to the Atlanta Falcons on August 20th at 4 PM.
NOTES: 2nd round pick JuJu Smith-Schuster left in the first quarter with a concussion…he was injured attempting to make a tackle on a Dobbs’ interception…the Steelers recorded six sacks…in addition to being thin at OLB, the Steelers had just 5 active WRs following Smith-Schuster’s injury…Tomlin told Missi Matthews at halftime the Steelers would quickly get Martavis Bryant back on the field…L.J. Fort and Hilton led the team with seven total tackles…Boswell made both of his field goals, including connecting from 48 yards out….over a dozen Steelers did not dress, including Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey, Sean Davis, Bud Dupree, and Justin Hunter.