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Preseason Rewind: What We Learned From the Steelers 24-17 Win Over the Giants

The Steelers are 2-0 in preseason after a 24-17 win over the New York Giants at the new Meadowlands Stadium on Saturday night. There were plenty of positives to talk about in the win, and plenty of game balls to give out as the team was a lot more impressive in their latest win than they were last Saturday at home against the Detroit Lions.

Here are some thoughts, good and bad, for the Steelers in their 7-point win against one the big boys in the NFC East.

The Good

1. For the 2nd straight week Dennis Dixon was the best Steeler QB on the field, and once again is making a huge case to be the starter over Byron Leftwich when the season kicks off. Dixon led a solid QB threesome for the Steelers and went 7-for-8 for 82 yards, and made things happen with his feet when the play broke down a few times. Dixon seems to know that the QB spot remains up for grabs, and is bent on getting the call to start against Atlanta on September 12th. It’s hard to beleive after these two games he won’t be.

2. The run game put up 161 yards on 41 carries, a solid 3.9 yards per carry average. They helped out an offense that had 412 yards to 280 for New York, and 8 different Steelers logged rushing attempts, led by Justin Vincent who had 37 yards on 6 carries, an average of 6.2 yards per carry. Rashard Mendenhall did have some issues going backwards on a few plays, but the O-line did a much better job opening holes against the Giants on Saturday night, and it showed with some big runs.

3. Rookie Antonio Brown did a good job on kick returns. His night could spell the end for Stefan Logan, as Brown looked sharp in going for 50 yards on two kick returns, and he had a nice 18-yard punt return, and had four punt returns for 43 yards. Brown looks like the real deal as a wide out and a kick returner, and could be a big player for this team in 2010.

4. The D laid some big hits on the Giants. It looked as if the defense was a little unhappy about the Lions having success agianst them last week, and they took it out on the Giants. All night you heard names like Farrior, Foote, Clark, Fox and others stepping up and making some rather big hits. It was good to see the Giants gain less than 300 yards of offense, and they were held to 3-of-10 on third downs while the offense was 6-for-12.

The Bad

1. Stupid move a few minutes into the game by Ike Taylor to get himself thrown out. What exactly do you have to prove in a preseason game that is so important it makes you get tossed? Taylor has simply got to show more maturity, and there’s no excuse for him to be throwing punches at any player. He’ll pay for it with a tongue lashing from Mike Tomlin, and a solid fine from the NFL.

2. While kick returns with Antonio Brown were pretty good, the kick return coverage was again an issue, as Aaron Ross took back a punt 45 yards for the Giants. This was a huge area of concern for the Steelers entering camp, and watching that 45-yard punt return brought back a lot of bad memories from a season ago. It’s an area they HAVE to fix.

3. Can someone tell me what exactly that was at the end of the first half? You don’t have a time out, and your within the five-yard line and you run Mewelde Moore basically off tackle? Where exactly is the logic in that? Then of course the clock ran out and the team wasn’t even able to trot Jeff Reed out for an extra point field goal attempt. The coaches have to be smarter than that – right?

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. matt

    August 22, 2010 at 7:22 am

    in response to bad #3, i was surprised redman didn’t get a shot at that 3rd & 1. in a real game, i’d be pissed if that isn’t a field goal attempt, but in a scrimmage/preseason game, i want to see how good redman actually is at goal line/short yardage situations. that was the perfect opportunity. i am not upset we didn’t get points there, but not happy that mewelde moore was the back on 3rd & 1.

  2. DrGeorge

    August 22, 2010 at 10:34 am

    1. Everyone is scratching their heads about the play calling at the end of the first half, with the ball inside the five and twelve seconds on the clock. Normally, if you have a power running game, you call on your big RB and run it in. But with this little time left, the only sensible plays are quick passes into the end zone. To call a run in that situation seems dumb. You learn nothing by running Moore or Redman into the line, but you squander the hustle and hard work that got the ball down there in the first place. Mr. Arians goofed.

    2. Mr. Loed did not mention the good and bad of the O-line. The first unit still looks shaky to me, especially in pass protection. The run blocking is improving, but both Essex and Adams missed assignments or failed to finish. That remains a major concern. The emergence of Pouncey is encouraging. The back ups for the O-line have outplayed the opposing second string defense two weeks in a row. Coach Kugler is making a difference with the O-line, but Essex and Adams don’t look like the answer.

    3. Dixon has earned a shot at working with the first unit. The more important story is the Steelers have three QBs who can lead the offense. Few teams can match our depth at QB.

    4. Defense. The first defensive unit is much improved with the return of Polamalu and Aaron Smith. Kudos to K. Lewis for his interception. Still the front seven remain vulnerable to the run, especially between the tackles, and the TD run around Keisel, Harrison and McFadden is inexplicable. That simply shouldn’t happen. McFadden also flubbed several coverage assignments, deep and short. The Defense of old is not back yet, and that’s more worrisome than any of the deficiencies on offense.

  3. Lone Wolf

    August 22, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    I had absolutely no problem with the run call at the end of the half. This team has struggled in short yardage situations for the last couple of years. It was a great time to work on that situation. I did not like having Moore used as the back. I wanted to see the short yardage offense (see Redman) used to see if we could score.

    I could care less if the Steelers win a pre-season game. They need to be working on correcting weaknesses. Power running is definitely a weakness.

  4. DrGeorge

    August 23, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Correction: I mistakenly attributed Joe Burnett’s interception to Lewis.

    As for the game management issues at the end of the first half, see Coach Tomlin’s comments at He wasn’t happy. Whether the fault is attributable to Arians, Leftwich, or leprechauns, the last fifteen seconds did not go well.

    Over all, the Steelers’ first unit twice failed to score a TD after entering the red zone. As Lone Wolf notes above, power running remains a weakness. Although the blocking schemes and run blocking are improved, the first string personnel aren’t executing consistently, especially at RG and RT. Dixon, the back-up O-line, and Redman ended the Red Zone jinx in the second half and scored emphatically, but they faced a rather disorganized Giant second string defense.

    Coach Kugler is making progress, but he needs better horses. I look for Hartwig, Essex, and Adams to all become backups before the end of Ben’s suspension. Otherwise, the first unit will continue to struggle, particularly in pass protection.

  5. Jay

    August 23, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Dr. George,

    Great to hear from you again…I like your assessment of the three aforementioned linemen becoming backups before long…I hope you are right…Being that I am first and foremost an offensive line guy, who do yo see the three replacements being..Okay, two, because everyone knows Pouncey will replace Hartwig…but who do you think replaces Adams and Essex?

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