It took the Steelers a little while to get started for openers, but once the defense provided a spark, the offense responded.
The first takeaway of the season was provided by outside linebacker T.J. Watt early in the second quarter, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger began throwing touchdown passes soon thereafter, and the Steelers rallied from a couple of early deficits and eventually put the Giants away, 26-16, on Monday night at MetLife Stadium.
“I thought they showed their mettle,” head coach Mike Tomlin assessed. “I thought they were physically tough, mentally tough, but we gotta do some things better.
“I appreciate the effort, we just gotta search for a higher ceiling.”
Watt’s fourth career interception gave the Steelers possession at the Giants’ 36-yard line with 12:35 left in the second quarter and the home team leading, 10-3.
Roethlisberger kept the possession alive with an 18-yard completion to tight end Eric Ebron on third-and-5 from the Giants’ 31 and then finished it with a touchdown pass under duress to wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster on third-and-7 from the New York 10. Running back Benny Snell’s blitz pick-up on safety Jabrill Peppers helped give Roethlisberger just enough time to find Smith-Schuster running across the end zone.
Kicker Chris Boswell’s extra point attempt hit the right upright and the Giants maintained the lead at 10-9, but not for long.
Two possessions later the Steelers had 78 yards to traverse in the final 1:32 prior to halftime following a punt.
They needed 1:25 to achieve their first lead of the season.
Roethlisberger hit wide receiver James Washington for 21, Smith-Schuster for 17 and Smith-Schuster for 14 before scrambling for 11 and a first down at the Giants’ 13 with 14 seconds left before halftime.
From there, a slant to Washington turned into a catch-and-run touchdown when Washington accepted Roethlisberger pass at the 10, split safeties Adrian Colbert and Julian Love at the 2 and kept driving through Love and over the goal line.
A successful conversion from Boswell upped the Steelers’ lead to 16-10 just before the teams headed to their locker rooms at the break.
“It brought back memories,” Smith-Schuster said of the two-minute march.