The Pittsburgh Steelers finally got back their Hall of Fame quarterback and they didn’t let him down. Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t lights out but played well in the victory. Eight different Steelers were on the receiving end of Roethlisberger completions in the 26-16 victory over the New York Giants. Defensively, Bud Dupree led a spectacular performance from the Steelers front seven. The secondary wasn’t as good as expected, but the defensive front more than made up for it. Pittsburgh’s defense picked up where they left off in 2019, racking up three sacks and forcing two turnovers.
Bud Dupree and Ben Roethlisberger Lead Steelers to Victory
Roethlisberger and Benny Snell Lead the Offense
There were a lot of question marks surrounding Ben Roethlisberger entering this game. For the most part, he delivered. While some throws were off and there are some chemistry issues with a young group of receivers, Roethlisberger looked great physically. He made plenty of top-level throws and even scrambled for 11 yards and a first down on one rush. Roethlisberger was sacked three times in the game though, a number the team will want to see decrease. The offensive line wasn’t great in the game, but Roethlisberger also held onto the ball too long on several occasions. Overall, Roethlisberger played well. The issues we saw are easy fixes, common mistakes made by any quarterback. It didn’t look like there were any long-lasting effects from his elbow surgery, which was the big storyline to watch.
You can’t talk about the Steelers offense in this game without talking about Benny Snell. The second-year running back kicked off his sophomore campaign with a great performance. After James Conner left the game with an ankle injury, Snell took over and never looked back. He finished the game with 113 yards on 19 carries. That’s almost six yards per carry, compared to the 3.9 yards per carry that Snell averaged last year. Along with his rushing performance, Snell looked good in pass protection, a major area he needed to improve from last year. If Conner will miss an extended period of time, the team will be comfortable with Benny Snell.
Defense Led by Splash Plays
It wasn’t their best performance, but the Steelers defense showed why they are considered one of the best defenses in the NFL. The front seven was on fire most of the game. Bud Dupree is on his second contract year in as many seasons, and he played like he wants a lot of money. He was a terror against the run and the pass, totaling four tackles (two for a loss), a pass defended, and a quarterback hit. Most importantly, his hit came on play 19 of an almost nine-minute drive for the Giants. Dupree hit Jones, who threw an interception in the end zone, ending the 87-yard drive with zero points. It was a major turning point in the game. The front seven as a whole was spectacular, holding Saquon Barkley to just *six* yards on 15 carries.
Pittsburgh’s other turnover in the game was an interception by T.J. Watt at the line of scrimmage. Beyond that, the secondary didn’t play a great game. Joe Haden and Steven Nelson have played better games in their career, to say the least. Terrell Edmunds wasn’t great in coverage and missed a few tackles, which is to be expected. Minkah Fitzpatrick didn’t fill the stat sheet but he was the best player in the secondary as usual. If the front seven can continue to play so well, there will be some margin of error for the secondary. The good news is that this was a below-average game, and won’t be the norm for that unit.
Along with James Conner, there were two more injuries in the game worth noting. Starting right tackle Zach Banner went down with a knee injury that appeared to be serious. It’s a gut-wrencher for Banner, who earned the starting right tackle job in the off-season. Hopefully, the injury isn’t serious and he can return this season. For now, Chukwuma Okorafor will be the right tackle. Stefen Wisniewski, who started the game at right guard, went down with what Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported as a torn pectoral. David DeCastro, the usual right guard, missed the game with a leg injury. If Wisniewski indeed tore his pec, he’ll miss an extended period of time, if not the season. If DeCastro isn’t ready to go next week, it will be rookie Kevin Dotson getting the start at right guard. Either way, there will likely be two different faces starting for the Steelers offensive line next week.