Ben Roethlisberger and Steelers defense vital in victory over Giants

Ben Roethlisberger and Steelers defense vital in victory over Giants

  • Pittsburgh Steelers 26-16 New York Giants
  • Titans edge Broncos after Gostkowski troubles

JuJu Smith-Schuster and Ben Roethlisberger teamed up in the Steelers’ victory over the Giants




JuJu Smith-Schuster and Ben Roethlisberger teamed up in the Steelers’ victory over the Giants.
Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP
Ben Roethlisberger, who missed the final 14 games last season after elbow surgery, threw for three scores in Pittsburgh Steelers’ 26-16 win over the New York Giants at an empty and eerie MetLife Stadium on Monday night.

The keys, though, were several defensive plays and the running of backup Bennie Snell, who rushed for 113 yards on 19 carries his first 100-yard performance in his second NFL season.

“We have talked openly about the maturation process and things you can expect from a second-year player,” coach Mike Tomlin said, “and he’s showed signs of that from the very beginning of this process. He is a quality player and one that is maturing and emerging, and one who answered the bell when called upon.”

The defense, while not quite on the level of the famed Steel Curtain, was stingy and physical. They not only held Saquon Barkley to six yards on 15 carries, they also swarmed him in the backfield nearly all night.

Three Steelers stars got them their first touchdown. All-Pro linebacker TJ Watt made a clever interception at the New York 36. Roethlisberger beat a blitz with a perfect throw to JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 10-yard second-quarter score. Chris Boswell’s extra point hit the upright, leaving them behind 10-9.

They got the lead with seven seconds remaining in the half as Roethlisberger connected with James Washington, who dived into the end zone for a 13-yard score. Boswell made the PAT this time, and added a 36-yard field goal early in the final quarter. That came following the night’s biggest play.

Even though the Pittsburgh defense broke down as the Giants marched 87 yards on 19 plays in just under nine minutes in the third quarter, they still came up with a major stop. Bud Dupree pressured quarterback Daniel Jones as he rolled left from the four-yard line and deflected his pass. Edge rusher Cam Heyward practically made a fair catch in the end zone for the interception.

Roethlisberger then took Pittsburgh 62 yards for the field goal and a 19-10 lead. He hit Smith-Schuster again for a 10-yard touchdown and a 26-10 lead before New York got a late TD. Roethlisberger finished 21 of 32 for 229 yards has now thrown for 366 touchdowns, a franchise record, tying Eli Manning for the eighth-most in NFL history.

In Monday’s late game, new kicker Stephen Gostkowski avoided a disastrous debut with Tennessee, just in the nick of time. The Titans escaped Denver with a 16-14 victory on Gostkowski’s 25-yard field goal with 17 seconds left, after he had missed four kicks, one in each quarter.

Gostkowski missed three field goals: wide left, wide right and a block, and he missed an extra point. Gostkowski never missed three field goals in a game during his 14 seasons in New England, where he won three Super Bowl rings, made four Pro Bowls and left this offseason as the Patriots all-time leading scorer.

On Thursday he joined the Titans, who had the worst field goal unit in the NFL last year when their first four kickers combined to connect on only 44.4% of field goals (eight for 18).

Although the final result was to his liking, surely his debut was not. The last Titans/Oilers kicker to miss three field goals and an extra point in a game was Skip Butler against the Jets in the 1977 season opener. And Gostkowski became the first kicker to miss three field goals and a PAT in the same game since Mason Crosby missed four field goals and a PAT for the Packers against the Lions in 2018.

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