5:17:The Titans add another short field goal from Ryan Succop after a nine-play, 73-yard drive.
4:06 Dobbs’ second drive went seven plays, 55 yards and Matthew Wright hit a 31-yard field goal.
6:27: Diontae Spencer continues to make splash plays with his legs with the ball in his hand. He just took a reverse 29 yards off the right side. But if he’s going to make the team as a wide receiver, he needs to make some catches, too.
10:20: Josh Dobbs in at quarterback for the first drive of the second half.
11:03: Tuzar Skipper continues to make a push for a roster spot with splash plays, including a sack/fumble of Titans third-stringer (and former Toledo teammate) Logan Woodside.
Rudolph 6-9, 75 yards, touchdown
Tannehill 6-9, 62 yards
Conner 5 carries, 41 yards
Jeremy McNichols 9 carries, 43 yards
Washington 2 targets, 1 catch, 41 yards, touchdown
Corey Davis 2 targets, 1 catch, 25 yards
2:57 Well, it was not the final drive for the first-team Steelers defense, and they suffered an injury on this one. Sean Davis limps off, holding his left quad.
Upon reply, looked like it might have been lower on the leg. He’s heading to the locker room, and is probably done, either way.
5:41 Kam Kelly, who started the game in the nickel package, forces a fumble on what was likely the final series for the first-team defense. Looks like he has a job.
8:00 The first turnover of the preseason for Rudolph is a rare miscommunication between him and Washington.
10:41 Artie Burns still working as a punt gunner. Have to think his job (and a game day helmet) are pretty obviously secure at this point.
12:13 Steelers’ second-team offensive line is in the game: Zach Banner, Derwin Gray, B.J. Finney, Fred Johnson and Chukwuma Okorafor.
13:27 Titans got a couple of nice gains after a long kickoff return set them up with good field position, but were forced to settle for a chip-shot field goal.
1:05: A couple of guys that have been battling significant injuries just checked in at linebacker for the Steelers: Vince Williams (hamstring) and Sutton Smith (abdomen).
1:52 Touchdown, Steelers: Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Rudolph to James Washington. The former Oklahoma State duo struck deep for a 41-yard touchdown on a post route. Just like they used to draw it up in Stillwater.
Extra point is good.
2:37: Mason Rudolph is the second quarterback into the game for the Steelers.
Roethlisberger’s final numbers: 8 of 13, 63 yards, touchdown.
3:10: Tuitt and Bud Dupree combine to crunch Tannehill for another sack. Pro Bowl punter Brett Kern is the only guy in blue having a good night so far.
4:25: Ryan Tannehill checks in at quarterback for Marcus Mariota, who finishes a ghastly 0 for 3 with a sack for a safety.
4:31 Touchdown, Steelers: What a drive for Ben Roethlisberger and JuJu Smith-Schuster. They connected three times, including once on a key third down and finally for a 17-yard touchdown as Smith-Schuster ate up cornerback LeShaun Sims in one-on-one coverage.
Jaylen Samuels tripped on the 2-point conversation attempt.
9:12 Safety, Steelers: After a fantastic Jordan Berry punt forced Tennessee to start at its own 4-yard line, Stephon Tuitt sacked Marcus Mariota in the end zone on first down for a safety.
10:53: Ryan Swtizer started on offense and has been on both the first-team kickoff and punt return units. Very good sign for him.
12:14: Steelers defensive starters:
DL Stephon Tuitt
DL Cameron Heyward
LOLB T.J. Watt
LILB Mark Barron
RILB Devin Bush
ROLB Bud Dupree
LCB Artie Burns
FS Sean Davis
SS Terrell Edmunds
RCB Steven Nelson
NB Kameron Kelly
15:00: Steelers offensive starters:
QB Ben Roethlisberger
RB James Conner
WR Donte Moncrief
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
WR Ryan Switzer
TE Vance McDonald
LT Alejandro Villanueva
LG Ramon Foster
C Maurkice Pouncey
RG David DeCastro
RT Matt Feiler
7:30 p.m. Steelers will have at least four inactive players, according to Steelers.com reporter Missi Matthews: OLB Anthony Chickillo (chest), CB Joe Haden (foot contusion), WR Diontae Johnson (undisclosed), RB Benny Snell (groin).
Sunday, August 25, 8:00 p.m.
Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
SN Coverage: Alan Saunders
TV/Radio: WPXI-TV (Pittsburgh) and NBC (Nationally), Steelers Radio Network (102.5 WDVE-FM)
Thunderstorms, 74 degrees at kickoff.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
• Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will start and will likely make his only appearance of the 2019 preseason.
• We should know a lot more about the battle for positioning amongst the Steelers wide receivers after this game. JuJu Smith-Schuster will work with Roethlisberger’s first unit, that much is assured. But how much Diontae Johnson, Donte Moncrief, Eli Rogers, Ryan Switzer and James Washington work with the first unit will be telling.
• Devin Bush should return to the field after being held out as a precaution during the Steelers’ Week 2 victory over Kansas City, and with the first teams expected to get more playing time and Vince Williams still bothered by a hamstring issue, Bush could see his most extensive playing time to date.
• As the “dress rehearsal” preseason game, the Steelers will also run out starting special teams units. If players on the roster fringe like Marcus Allen, Ulysees Gilbert and Tuzar Skipper see playing time on special teams in the first half, it’s a good sign for their 53-man roster odds.
OUT: OLB Ola Adeniyi, who had surgery on a torn meniscus on last Friday and is expected to miss another one to two weeks, at least.
UNKNOWN: OLB Anthony Chickillo (chest), CB Joe Haden (foot contusion), RG David DeCastro (soreness), C Maurkice Pouncey (undisclosed), TE Christian Scotland-Williamson (upper body), OLB Sutton Smith (abdomen), RB Benny Snell (groin), ILB Vince Williams (hamstring).
EXPECTED TO PLAY: ILB Devin Bush (undisclosed), TE Zach Gentry (upper body)
MORE ON TENNESSEE
<https://titansized.com/2019/08/24/money-breakdown-taylor-lewan-suspension/”Left tackle Taylor Lewan will miss the first four games of the season after being suspended for performance-enhancing drugs (Titan Sized)>
STEELERS NOW COVERAGE THIS WEEK
Five Takeaways: Big Plays, Stellar D Lift Steelers Past Slow Start
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Like so many times before over the years, the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive braintrust took a long look a New York Giants second-year quarterback Daniel Jones while preparing for the teams’ 2020 season opener at MetLife Stadium on Monday.
Their conclusion? Jones couldn’t beat them.
That’s the same conclusion the Steelers have come to when facing many young quarterbacks over the years, and once again, they were proven correct, as Jones threw two interceptions, leading to 14 Steelers points in a 10-point, 26-16 victory.
Not to say that part was easy, but Jones is a young passer that hasn’t beaten very many NFL teams in his nascent career on the strength of his arm alone.
The impressive part is what the Steelers did to New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley. The No. 2 overall pick out of Penn State in 2018, Barkley came back to his native New York and exploded onto he pro scene, averaging five yards per carry as a rookie and topping the 1,000-yard plateau in each of his first two professional season.
Against the Steelers on Monday night, he went nowhere. N-O-W-H-E-R-E.
Barkley carried the ball 15 times against the Steelers and gained a grand total of six yards. Six!
That’s less than Jones, who had four carries for 22 yards and 38-year-old Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who ended up with nine rushing yards after an 11-yard scramble in the second quarter and a pair of kneel downs before the final gun.
“We had a commitment and we weren’t going to be bashful about that commitment,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. “We thought that guy was a catalyst for whatever they were going to do offensively. We put our secondary in harm’s way to do so. But it’s a team game. They embraced that challenge. We had to stack the line of scrimmage. We needed to bring people like Mike Hilton and so forth and we did. We did what we thought was necessary to reduce his impact on the game.”
While Barkley was able to hurt the Steelers some in the passing game — he finished with six catches for 60 yards — the running game was completely bottled up. How badly? His average point of contact with Steelers defenders was nearly an entire yard behind the line of scrimmage, according to Pro Football Focus.
Saquon Barkley averaged NEGATIVE 0.7 rushing yards BEFORE contact per attempt tonight 😑 pic.twitter.com/hoX3kgaj9O
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) September 15, 2020
“Tonight, we just wanted to smash the run first and foremost,” linebacker T.J. Watt said. “It was almost whoever could get there first. By the time you got to the ball, it seemed like there were three guys who were there before you.”
“We know Saquon is a heck of a back and he’s got young legs, so you’ve got to have 11 guys to the ball,” added defensive captain Cam Heyward. “We always say, ‘He can’t dodge 11 bullets.’ We make sure that we all come to the party and tackle him.”
The Steelers defense not only provided two turnovers that Ben Roethlisberger and company turned into 14 points, they held fast when a Diontae Johnson muffed punt put them in the shadow of their own goalposts in the first quarter.
“They are unbelievable,” Roethlisberger said. “Unfortunately, I have to face them every day in practice. They are one of the best defenses that I’ve played with, and I’ve played with some really good ones. I’m excited to be on the football field with them. What they do, as a quarterback, they allow you to play more free because if you do make a mistake, you can count on them to bail you out of it. They did it tonight numerous times creating turnovers and big stops. I just can’t say enough about the way they play.”
FINDING THE FOOTBALL
Watt’s interception came when he was late on a pass rush, jumped up to block Jones’ throw and it landed straight in his arms.
It was certainly an usual interception, but it had nothing on the Steelers’ second of the game.
After a long Giants drive in late in the third quarter, with the Steelers hanging on to a 10-point lead, New York had a second down and three from the Steelers’ 4-yard line.
Jones dropped back to pass, Bud Dupree chased him from the pocket and hit his arm as he released a pass toward the end zone.
Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward came off his block at the line of scrimmage and drifted toward the goal line, hoping to keep Jones from running for pay dirt and from being able to throw back across his body to a late-breaking receiver.
When Dupree hit Jones, his pass attempted for Derrius Slayton drifted, fluttered and hung in the chilly night sky for what seemed like an eternity before the 295-pound Heyward leapt into the air, cradled the football and crashed to the turf just on the blue-painted side of the Steelers’ goal line.
— NFL (@NFL) September 15, 2020
“I just wanted to make a play for our team,” Heyward said. “I saw Bud laying him down and I just tried to make the smart play and flow to the ball. … We’ve just got to be an opportunistic defense.
“We had sacks by guys who usually don’t get sacks. We had interceptions by guys who usually don’t get interceptions. We’re a defense that will let our play do the talking.”
Heyward also said that drive encapsulated the Steelers defensive strategy. They made Jones drive down the field, making play after play, while stopping Barkley from contributing and keeping everything else in front of them. Eventually, the young quarterback made a crucial mistake.
“The thing we can learn form that is that we bend, but don’t break,” Heyward said. “We’ve got to make sure that when the ball gets in our hands, we make sure to get the picks.”
“We had the mentality that they’re going to get some yards. It’s the first game. We’ve just got to make the plays.”
BACK IN THE SADDLE
After a long and strenuous offseason of rehabilitating his surgically repaired right elbow, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can officially say he’s back after a strong performance in the opener against the New York Giants on Monday.
After a somewhat slow start, Roethlisberger got into a rhythm in the second quarter and built from here, finishing with 229 passing yards and three touchdowns.
There were things to work on, but if you were holding your breath about Roethlisberger’s elbow making it through an NFL game, you can safely hold your breath.
“I feel great right now,” Roethlisberger said after the game. “Obviously, adrenaline is still pumping and we won the game. I’m going to be sore [Tuesday], there is no doubt. I got some bumps and bruises. In terms of elbow and everything else, I feel really good right now.”
Roethlisberger said that not only does he feel healthy, his passes felt good coming out, as well.
“There were a couple times where it felt like it was coming out pretty fast in terms of velocity,” he said. “I think it was kind of a bigger deal to get hit for the first time. week ago, I was trying to tell T.J. to give me some bumps in practice and I think that maybe got me ready.”
‘NOSE FOR THE END ZONE’
The Steelers took the lead for good with seven seconds left in the first half, when Roethlisberger found James Washington over the middle.
The Steelers started the play 13 yards from the end zone. The pass took Washington to about the 10 and he ran to the three, where two New York Giants were waiting. He leapt over the tackle of one and plowed straight into the second, but kept his footing and drove safety Julian Love backward into the end zone.
— NFL (@NFL) September 15, 2020
Washington spent quarantine working out on his farm in Merkel, Texas, and it’s pretty clear that the 5-foot-11 Washington has upped his toughness game entering 2020.
“That’s a guy that’s got a nose for the end zone,” Tomlin said. “That’s a guy rising up, making a necessary play and doing what he has to do to deliver for his teammates.”
THINGS TO CLEAN UP
The win was far from perfect, as any number of Steelers errors could have turned out to be costly. Tomlin rattled them off after the game:
Johnson muffed a punt that he probably shouldn’t have even been trying to catch, inside his own 10-yard line. Joe Haden was called for defensive pass interference short of the line on a third and long, giving the Giants a first down that led to a touchdown. Chris Boswell missed an extra point and drove a kickoff out of bounds.
“I thought we could have played better,” he said. “It’s good to work on things, though, with a W.”
From the Locker Room: TJ Watt, Mike Tomlin Talk About Stopping Saquon Barkley
“We just wanted to smash the run first and foremost.”
That was the message from Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt, along with head coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, as they break down the Steelers’ defensive effort in stopping New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley during the team’s 26-16 win in its season opener at MetLife Stadium on Monday, Sept. 15, 2020.
From the Locker Room: Cam Heyward Pleased with First Career Interception, Total Team Win
Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward talks about his first career interception and the defense shutting down Saquon Barkley in the Steelers’ 26-16 season-opening win over the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020.