Sep 142020
 
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Darius Slayton, New York Giants (September 14, 2020)

Darius Slayton – © USA TODAY Sports

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PITTSBURGH STEELERS 26 – NEW YORK GIANTS 16…
Despite the game remaining close for three quarters, the Pittsburgh Steelers pulled away in the 4th quarter and soundly defeated the New York Giants on Monday night at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants begin the 2020 NFL season 0-1.

What killed the Giants was their inability to run the football combined with two very costly interceptions by quarterback Daniel Jones. The defense also crumbled at inopportune times, including after both turnovers and late in the first half. Running back Saquon Barkley was held to an abysmal six yards on 15 carries. Indeed, Jones was the team’s leading rusher with 22 yards as Giants’ running backs only combined for seven yards rushing.

The Giants received the football to start the game, picked up two first downs, but were then forced to punt. However, New York was handed a golden opportunity when Pittsburgh’s returner muffed the punt and the Giants recovered the loose ball at the Pittsburgh 3-yard line. But the Giants could not get the ball into the endzone after a 1-yard run and two incomplete passes as they settled for a 21-yard field goal.

After both teams exchanged three-and-outs, the Steelers tied the game at 3-3 when their 13-play, 59-yard second drive resulted in a 41-yard field goal. The Giants responded with an impressive 6-play, 75-yard possession that culminated in a 41-yard touchdown pass from Jones to wide receiver Darius Slayton. Early in the second quarter, the Giants led 10-3.

The Giants forced another three-and-out by the Steelers. With momentum clearly in New York’s favor, Jones threw his first bad interception on the first play of the subsequent drive. Linebacker T.J. Watt fooled Jones when he dropped into coverage and the Steelers had the ball at the New York 36-yard line. Six plays later, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a 10-yard touchdown. Pittsburgh missed the extra point and the Giants led 10-9.

After two punts by the Giants and one by the Steelers, Pittsburgh got the ball back at their own 22-yard line with 1:32 left before halftime. Unfortunately, the New York defense could not prevent the Steelers from easily marching 78 yards in eight plays to take a morale-sapping 16-10 lead into halftime. Roethlisberger threw a 13-yard touchdown pass with just seven seconds left on the clock.

Nevertheless, the Giants were still very much in the game. After the Steelers picked up one first down to start the third quarter, they were forced to punt. The Giants then began a marathon 19-play possession that started at their own 9-yard line. Despite no running game whatsoever, the Giants converted on 3rd-and-14, 3rd-and-1, 4th-and-1, 3rd-and-6, and 3rd-and-3 to keep the drive alive. Disaster struck when on 2nd-and-3 from the Pittsburgh 4-yard line, Jones scrambled to his left, was hit as he threw, and the pass was picked off in the end zone by a defensive lineman for a touchback. The 19-play, 87-yard, almost 9-minute possession resulted in no points. It was a devastating turn of events.

Predictably, the Steelers took advantage of the huge momentum switch as they drove 62 yards in nine plays to set up a 36-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. The Steelers now led 19-10 and the Giants were clearly in trouble.

The game was all-but-officially decided on the next two series. Despite starting their next possession at their own 40-yard line, the Giants went three-and-out. The Steelers then drove 75 yards in 11 plays to take a commanding 26-10 lead with 5:23 to play. New York drove for a garbage-time touchdown, ending with Slayton’s second touchdown catch on 3rd-and-goal from the 7-yard line with less than two minutes to play. The two-point conversion and subsequent onside kick failed. The Steelers then ran out the clock to preserve the win.

Offensively, the Giants were held to 291 total net yards (29 rushing, 262 passing). The team did convert 8-of-15 times on third down (53 percent) and 1-of-1 on 4th down. Jones completed 26-of-41 passes for 279 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He was the leading rusher with 22 yards on four carries. The leading receivers were Slayton (6 catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns), Barkley (6 catches for 60 yards), and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (6 catches for 47 yards).

Defensively, the Giants allowed 349 total net yards (141 yards rushing, 208 yards passing). Pittsburgh scored on five of their 10 offensive possessions (three touchdowns and two field goals). The Giants did not force a turnover on defense. Defensive linemen Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence each had sacks.

Video highlights are available on Giants.com.

PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
With teams now allowed to activate two players from the Practice Squad on game day, the Giants activated OL Chad Slade and S Sean Chandler.

Inactive for the game were WR Golden Tate (hamstring), OG Shane Lemieux, OT Jackson Barton, DE R.J. McIntosh, LB T.J. Brunson, LB Cam Brown, and LB Tae Crowder (hamstring).

The Giants reported no injuries from the game.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Joe Judge and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge will address the media by conference call on Tuesday afternoon.

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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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