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Errors costly in 18-13 loss to Giants

Posted Aug 10, 2013

GIANTS 18, STEELERS 13

Steelers’ record: 0-1
One year ago: 0-1
Preseason series record: Series tied, 13-13

STORYLINE
For Coach Mike Tomlin, explaining the outcome was rather simple. “Just the errors, the Steelers defeating the Steelers. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it can be characterized as part of August football but I’m not buying that. I think that we can set the bar higher than that for the first time out, you would like to think. But we didn’t tonight, so we need to make those corrections. We can’t be penalized, we can’t have punts blocked, we can’t make poor decisions from a fielding of the ball standpoint. All of those things happened, and we need to fix it.”

STAT THAT STANDS OUT
Here is an accounting of how the Steelers’ 2013 draft class fared in their first NFL game: OLB Jarvis Jones had two tackles and recovered a fumble; RB Le’Veon Bell did not play because of a lingering minor knee injury; WR Markus Wheaton caught one pass for 10 yards; SS Shamarko Thomas had two tackles on defense and one more on special teams; QB Landry Jones completed 5-of-9 for 48 yards, but his fumble on an attempted handoff to Baron Batch resulted in a safety; WR Justin Brown led the team with four catches for 32 yards; ILB Vince Williams had three tackles, including one for loss, plus a sack and a pressure; DE Nick Williams did not play because of a knee injury.

WHAT WENT RIGHT
* After the blocked punt by Damontre Moore gave the Giants the ball at the Pittsburgh 5-yard line, the Steelers defense rose up and kept them out of the end zone. Ziggy Hood stopped David Moore for no gain on first down; Eli Manning overthrew Louis Murphy on second down; and Ike Taylor got a hand on a pass to Rueben Randle on third down. The Giants settled for a 23-yard field goal by Josh Brown.

* On the Steelers’ second offensive possession, LaRod Stephens-Howling carried six times over a span of seven plays and gained 36 yards.

* The Steelers’ first takeaway of 2013 came when Giants RB Andre Brown fumbled a pitch from David Carr, then was lackadaisical about covering the ball, and rookie OLB Jarvis Jones came in and recovered to set up the Steelers offense at the Giants 44-yard line with 13:23 left in the first half.

* In the third quarter, for the second time in this game, the Steelers’ defense stood up well in a sudden change situation. Undrafted rookie defensive end Brian Arnfeldt was in on tackles on both second and third downs, and Josh Brown hooked his 38-yard field goal attempt to keep the Giants lead at 15-6.

* Based on the way the defense had played in sudden-change situations, it was appropriate the Steelers’ first touchdown of 2013 was scored by the defense. A sack by rookie ILB Vince Williams helped put the Giants in a third-and-22 hole at their own 16-yard line. With rookie QB Ryan Nassib in the shotgun, C Matt McCants’ snap went over his head. OLB Alan Baxter had a shot at the bouncing ball around the 2-yard line, but it squirted free into the end zone where OLB Adrian Robinson came up with it for the touchdown.

WHAT WENT WRONG
* The Steelers converted their initial third-down situation of the game with a pass to Will Johnson. A holding penalty on Marcus Gilbert put the offense in a hole at second-and-16 that became a third-and-16 when Ben Roethlisberger had a pass batted down. Cullen Jenkins then beat Ramon Foster to sack Roethlisberger and set up a punt.

* Drew Butler’s first punt went for a 52-yard net, but it was nullified by a penalty on Marshall McFadden for being illegally downfield. On the re-kick, Damontre Moore broke through to block the punt, and Louis Murphy’s recovery gave the Giants the ball at the Steelers’ 5-yard line.

* The Steelers’ second defensive possession was one where the unit ended up allowing an 80-yard touchdown drive that truly came down to a couple of big plays by the Giants. On a third-and-9, the Steelers attacked Eli Manning with a corner blitz, and he responded with a pass to Rueben Randle, who escaped Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu to gain 16 yards. On the next third down, a third-and-4, Manning went down the seam to Victor Cruz, who caught the ball behind William Gay and ran away from Polamalu to compete the 57-yard touchdown play.

* The Steelers were out of timeouts in the first half with 12:06 remaining in the second quarter. All three were burned by the offense.

* Jason Worilds was flagged for two unnecessary roughness penalties over a three-play span late in the second quarter to help the Giants add a field goal on the final play of the half to take a 13-6 lead into the locker room. Worilds first penalty came for roughing quarterback David Carr; the second came following a quick altercation with an offensive lineman.

* Not a lot to like from special teams through the early minutes of the third quarter. In addition to the blocked punt, David Gilreath fielded a punt at his own 3-yard line, and after a 4-yard return the ball was moved back to the 4-yard line because of an illegal block in the back penalty on Justin Brown.

* On the first offensive play following the penalty on Brown, rookie quarterback Landry Jones collided with Baron Batch as he tried to hand him the football. The resulting fumble in the end zone was recovered by Jones, who was covered by Tyler Sash for the safety that upped the Giants lead to 15-6.

* Another special teams gaffe. Midway through the third quarter, Gilreath had a punt bounce off his chest, and it was recovered by Matt Broha to give the Giants the ball at the Steelers 28-yard line.

INJURY UPDATE
During the game, the Steelers escaped with a couple of minor injuries – an ankle sprain sustained by ILB Stevenson Sylvester when teammate Markus Wheaton collided with him in the process of making a tackle in punt coverage, and CB Isaiah Green had leg cramps. But it was before the game when the big injury news was revealed, that being the decision by Tomlin to sit Bell because of the lingering effects of a knee injury he sustained in Latrobe.

“(Bell) was a little sore and slowed during the week. I didn’t feel comfortable playing him tonight, because I didn’t like what I saw on Friday,” said Tomlin. “He’s going to be fine. I just don’t want to start his career out in less than  ideal circumstances from a health standpoint. We have a lot of time to evaluate him and others, so we’re going to be patient there.”

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