That was everything you expect preseason football to be — sloppy on top of sloppy — but the good news in the Steelers’ 20-16 loss to the New York Giants is that they seemed to come out of it relatively healthy.
A few quick thoughts…
1) Dri Archer, one of the early stars of training camp, only touched the ball a couple of times, but his first touch was by far the play of the night for the offense when he caught a quick slip screen from Ben Roethlisberger and then turned on the jets through the middle of the field, going for a 40-plus yard gain. I could get used to seeing that sort of thing this season.
2) Defensively, the Steelers gave up a 73-yard touchdown run to former Pitt running back Rashard Jennings on their second series, but other than that the first team defense did a solid job. The most encouraging thing was the play of 2012 third-round pick Sean Spence, who ended up getting the start at middle linebacker in place of first-round pick Ryan Shazier (still out with what Mike Tomlin described as, “a boo boo”). You might remember Spence as the promising rookie from two years ago that horrifically blew his knee out late in the preseason and has slowly worked his way back. If you watched him on Saturday, you would have never guessed where he came from. He seemed to be at the center of every play the defense made, sticking his nose into the running game and applying pressure on Giants quarterback Eli Manning on more than one occasion.
3) One player that would probably like a mulligan on this game? Fourth-round pick Martavis Bryant. Oof. He muffed a punt, dropped a wide open pass on third down on the final offensive drive, and just when it seemed like he was going to redeem himself by hauling in a pass on the ensuing fourth down, he fumbled.
4) The less said about the Steelers’ backup offensive tackles right now, the better. They can’t lose Kelvin Beachum or Marcus Gilbert.
5) Brad Wing has some MAJOR hangtime on his punts. He had a bad one or two mixed in, but every single one of his punts seemed to stay in the air forever. That is an element the Steelers have not had in the special teams game for quite some time.