The Pittsburgh Steelers opened the 2020 NFL Season on the road for their fifth consecutive year against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The story was the return of Ben Roethlisberger from a season-ending elbow injury last year against Seattle in Week 2.
The Giants came out ready for the Steelers defense having a spirited drive to near midfield with Daniel Jones and Sterling Shepard clicking with two catches, one giving them converting on third down.
After failing to draw the defense offsides, the Giants recovered the ball at the three yard-line on a muffed punt by Diontae Johnson. The Steelers defense would hold the Giants to three points.
Early on Ben was trying to get his timing right, handoffs and dump-offs to James Conner was the early gameplan, the first drive went three-and-out but, on the second drive, Roethlisberger would have his first non-dumpoff to JuJu Smith-Schuster and a beautiful first NFL catch by Chase Claypool, toe-tapping to move the chains.
Despite that highlight play for Claypool, the drive would end in a field goal by Chris Boswell to tie the game.
Throughout the course of the night, the Steelers shut down Saquon Barkley, who was expected to be a focal point for the Giants offense. Outside of nice chunk plays that revolved around hurdling Steelers CB Mike Hilton, he was held in check rushing wise. Thanks to Bud Dupree and the Steelers always stingy run defense. He had 15 rushes for 6 yards and 6 receptions for 61 yards.
In his place, Daniel Jones had a fairly good game for the Giants. He completed 26 passes on 41 attempts for 279 yards and 2 touchdowns. The highlights are the two touchdowns to Darius Slayton including a dime that beat the Steelers coverage to give them a 10 to 3 lead early in the 2nd half.
With the Steelers immediately going three-and-out on their next drive, it seemed to be one of those games for the Steelers. But on the first play of the ensuing drive, T.J. Watt stepped into pass coverage and picked off Jones giving the Steelers excellent field position at the Giants' 36-yard line.
The Steelers capitalized on Eric Ebron’s first catch in black and gold setting them up in the red zone, where they went from first to worst in red zone scoring last year. Smith Schuster would capitalize on a Roethlisberger floater for a 10-yard touchdown reception, but Boswell’s PAT would hit the upright retaining the Giants 10-9 lead.
The Steelers would get the ball back near the end of the half and Roethlisberger would turn in a vintage performance with a no-huddle two-minute drill offense.
Two Smith-Schuster receptions and a Roethlisberger 11-yard scramble got them in the red zone again with 14 seconds remaining. James Washington would capitalize by fighting into the endzone on a slant route with a second effort for a touchdown with 7 seconds left. The Steelers would walk into halftime with a 16-10 lead.
The Giants would go on a long 19-play drive, starting on their own 9-yard line. Jones made plays with his arm and feet. Converting on 4-5 3rd downs and a 4th down conversion that would bring them to the Steelers' 4-yard line. But the Steelers would not break with Cam Heyward getting his first career interception in the endzone on a wounded duck throw forced by Dupree on the 19th play of the drive.
JuJu Smith-Schuster and Benny Snell played great games for the Steelers. Snell took over for Conner after he left the game with a left ankle injury and had 19 rushes for 113 yards and Smith Schuster had 6 receptions for 69 yards with 2 touchdowns, an onside kick recovery and a key fumble recovery after Snell nearly lost the ball after the Heyward Interception.
Smith Schuster’s second touchdown pass from Roethlisberger was the one that put the game out of reach. Jones connected with Slayton late in the 4th quarter, but the Giants failed the 2-point conversion to remain down ten points.
After recovering the onside kick, the Steelers would run out the clock and secure a 26-16 victory for their 1st win of the season. This victory is the franchise’s 49th win on Monday Night Football tied with San Francisco for the most all-time.