Not that it means all that much, but the Steelers take a 10-9 lead into the second half, with the majority of the scoring on either side being produced off of turnovers. Joshua Dobbs threw two interceptions in the first half that gave the Giants short fields, but the defense was able to hold to field goals in both instances. After Pittsburgh recovered a fumble off of a punt, Dobbs hooked up with Cobi Hamilton for a 28-yard touchdown. Both sides each had one additional field goal–both of them from long range–to produce the current score.
Pardon me if I allow no arguments, but first-year cornerback Mike Hilton was the player of the first half. In the first two quarters, he recorded a sack on defense, and on special teams, he forced a fair catch, made a tackle, and was the first man in coverage on a punt that resulted in a fumble, which he recovered.
T.J. Watt recorded two sacks in the first half, early in the game, though neither sack was the most impressive individual effort.
Guess who made the tackle on the first kickoff of the second half? Yeah…Mike Hilton. To put it bluntly: this is how you make a roster.
L.T. Walton was in on the first tackle of the defensive side of the ball for a gain of two. After a gain of one, Smith found his tight end down the seam in front of Jacob Hagen. Wayne Gallman ran hard for seven up the middle off left guard. Smith with play action rolled out to his right, no pressure, and found his receiver with Brian Allen not following him to the corner.
From the Steelers’ 33, Gallman survived an initial hit to pick up two yards. Adams with another reception, jointly tackled by Hagen and L.J. Fort. On third and four, Smith was under pressure from behind, but stood in the pocket and threw the ball away to settle for another field goal attempt. Mike Nugent connected from 45 to give the Giants a 12-10 lead.
Hamilton took the kickoff out to about the 20, where he took a good shot. Dobbs still in at quarterback, he handed off to Knile Davis on first down, who tried to bounce the run left to the outside, then found some room working north for about four or five yards. Dobbs rolled out to his left on second down for a pitch and catch to Marcus Tucker and a first down.
After a run of no gain on first down, Davis found nothing immediately on second down but then picked up about 11 bouncing to the right to move the chains. Near midfield, Jerald Hawkins failed to pick up the edge rusher and got Dobbs hammered for a loss on nine. Kyle Friend looked to get out in front of a screen pass to Davis, but failed to block the first defender, who made the tackle after five yards. On third and 14, Hawkins allowed pressure again, but Dobbs used his speed to get to the outside and fire off an off-balance pass to Caanan Severin, who let the ball go out of his hands for a drop. Ducre was there to induce the fair catch. The Giants were also penalized for an illegal block in the back.
Brandon Dixon got flagged for holding down the field. From the 40, Rudolph for the Giants was penalized for an illegal block in the back on Dixon for a 10-yard penalty. Arthur Moats was there to pick off Smith, making a bad read for his worst play of the night. There was clear miscommunication between the quarterback and the receiver either way. The ball was returned to the 14.
Dobbs threw too wide to the flat on first down for his intended target. Davis picked up two or three up the middle to set up third and long. After buying some time, Dobbs found Xavier Grimble for what would have been a touchdown if not for a hold. Now third and 17, Dobbs was under pressure and just got off a high pass to Eli Rogers on a crosser, the receiver quickly cut down for minimal gain. Boswell’s 37-yard field goal recaptured the lead for the Steelers, 13-12.
Keith Kelsey made the tackle on the ensuing kickoff. The defense was able to force the Giants to go three and out, with Hilton getting some pressure on another blitz. He jarred the running back and then pursued, amongst other defenders, to force Smith to throw it away. A short punt sets the Steelers up with solid field position.
With Dobbs’ night over after about three quarters, the Steelers’ fourth quarterback, Bart Houston, checked in. Off play-action, he found nothing open so took it up the middle for three. Terrell Watson took a shot off the right side for one yard. On third and six, Houston found Severin to move the chains.
Watson found a short gain up the left side to end the third quarter. Jake McGee led Watson off the left side for a first-down run. But he was bottled up at the line of scrimmage on the following play. Houston overthrew his target on the next play down the field for what would have been an explosive play for Marcus Tucker. Houston did find Severin for 13 yards. From the 15, Watson was led by McGee again for the score.
Hilton cleaned up yet another play on a kickoff down the field for his third special teams tackle. Moats cleaned up a sack on second down. A screen pass, however, picked up the 16 yards needed to convert. From the 45, a six-yard run up the middle. Now across midfield, Smith used play action but T.J. Watt stayed disciplined and was able to raise up and tip the pass incomplete. On third and four, both outside linebackers got pressure but lost their lanes and allowed Smith to easily slip up into the pocket and jog for the first.
Following a two-yard rush, Moats got to the quarterback once again, picking on the deep end of the Giants’ roster at this point. It’s nice for him to be showing this, but he should be outperforming such a low level of competition. Still, you can only beat the man across from you, not the ones on the sideline.
Smith fired for a good gain on third down, but held two yards shy of the first. Hilton tripped up the back short of the first down on fourth, Watt with the initial very soft contact.
Houston’s pass on the ensuing drive was behind his receiver for an incompletion. Off play-action, Houston had Tucker wide open deep, but the receiver could not run under the overthrown pass. On third down, the draw for Watson picked up just one or two.
Berry got off a 52-yard punt and the coverage was tight, allowing a minimal return to pen the Giants deep at their own 14. The Giants put their own rookie quarterback, Davis Webb, in under center. His first pass was errant, his second dropped. On third down, he checked down for a new set of downs. Watt was in on the tackle on the ensuing play, the rookie still in the game, pretty much the whole way through from what I’ve seen.
On second and four, Kelsey laid a hit on the wide receiver but after a gain of eight. Following and incompletion, Farringtin Huegenin was there to wrap up a short catch of five yards. On third and 10, Watt got initial pressure but left the edge open for Webb to scramble to. The quarterback looked for a target on the right sideline but could not connect, at least inbounds.
Rogers was back there to return the punt, bringing it back a short way. Remember, the Steelers are looking to get AB off of punt returns, if you’re wondering why the Steelers would have Rogers in this late.
Severin had another chance to make a big catch down the field and dropped it. Two big drops for the big receiver in this game now. The last thing a guy that far down the depth chart could have possibly afforded. Watson picked up seven or eight on second down. Houston’s third-down pass deep was off-target, overthrown. Berry’s punt from the 27 was returnable, but the coverage got there in time after a short gain.
After one first-down pass from Webb, his second pass was incomplete down the field. On third and four, he was chased out of the pocket and forced to throw it away. Daniel McCullers got some pressure. On fourth down, he found Kevin Norwood against Hilton, who allowed the conversion but held on for the tackle.
Kelsey followed up the next play with a big hit after a short catch at the two-minute warning. Steven Johnson got some pressure up the middle to make Webb tuck and run for one. Malik Golden, the Penn State safety, got over, with Brian Allen on the original defense, tracked a deep ball. Hilton got pressure on a blitz to force an errant pass and a turnover on downs.
Watson picked up five yards on first down, not much on second. On third down, he came up half a yard shy of the first down to drain the lock and secure a 20-12 win in the preseason debut.