Damontre Moore made a great first impression as he blocked the Steelers' first possession punt attempt to set the Giants up in prime scoring position. The Giants were unable to capitalize with a touchdown as the running game didn't look in sync to start the game, but came away with three points to jump out to an early lead.
The Steelers next possession looked reminiscent of the November game last year when the Steelers were able to run at will against the Giants' defense. The Steelers were able to block the Giants' defensive lineman and linebackers and create running room as they drove the field for an eventual field goal. The inability of the outside linebackers to keep leverage on the runners would become a problem for the rest of the first half.
The Giants second possession showcased the burgeoning talent of Rueben Randle and the magic of the Eli Manning to Victor Cruz connection. On a third and long Eli checked to quick pass to Rueben Randle on the outside to beat the Steelers blitz. Randle beat the first man at the line of scrimmage and then put a move on perennial ALL-Pro Troy Polumanu that would have had Dave Meggett smiling. Victor Cruz shook off the rust of his off-season hold out with a bang as he split the center of the Steeler's defensive backfield for a 57-yard touchdown from Eli Manning.
The only downside to the first few possessions from the New York Giants was the lack of a consistent push in the running game. David Wilson was held in check and Andre Brown didn't run well until the second offensive line was in the game. Wilson also buried his head in the sand on a double A gap blitz pick up with 16 seconds to go in the first half. He needs to step up and get his face in front of the defender if he is going to be an everydown back. Andre Brown also made a mistake when he fumbled a pitch and failed to cover it up before the Steelers could take possession. The lack of a running game and the failure to stop the opponent's running game will have Tom Coughlin chomping at the bit to get back on the practice field this week.
The Giants running stats:
Damontre Moore made a great first impression as he flew all over the field. If he wasn't pressuring the quarterback he was chasing down the runner from behind. The Giants might have hit the lottery getting a talent like this in the third round of this year's draft. He's still young, and there are reasons he slid in the draft, but if he can produce like he has at every other level he will be a star for the Giants' defense.
Ryan Nassib's first appearance for the New York Giants is one he would probably soon like to forget. Penalties, turnovers, and sacks taken show just how far he has to go to be considered the heir to Eli's throne. Luckily for Nassib, Landry Jones debut started out just as bad, as the Giants were able to force a safety as the rookie from Oklahoma botched a handoff on his first snap of the game for the Steelers.
New placekicker Josh Brown showed plenty of leg by booming his kickoffs though the end zone or at least deep into it. He finished the game 3/4 on field goal attempts as he missed a very make-able 38 yarder wide left. The plus he provides in field position will only be appreciated if he can be as reliable as Lawrence Tynes was on field goals. Steve Weatherford and Zak DeOssie looked to be in mid-season form as they put on a show when called upon in the punting game.
Tyler Sash had a tremendous special teams game and played well with the second defense. The writing is on the wall for Sash as this is a make or break preseason for him. Marvin Austin is another player that needs to show well in the preseason for the Giants to keep him. He played played extensively after the ones left the field as he was paired with Mike Patterson for a large part of the game and was hit and miss. When Austin stands up and uses poor technique he is easily driven down the field and that happened tonight against the better Steelers' offensive lineman.
Da'Rel Scott had an opportunity to show he can run the ball and failed to do so tonight. He was too easily taken down and never looked to be an NFL caliber running back. He will have to show up big time on special teams to beat out rookie Michael Cox who looked like the better pure running back tonight. Cox looked like he was shot out of a cannon on a few plays, but also overran his blocking a bit. Patience may be the key with this young back.
In all, more questions were raised than answered tonight, but that's to be expected during the first preseason game. I expect to see a better running game and a more stout run defense when some of the injured stars come back.