Ben Roethlisberger Throws 3 TDs to Lead Steelers Past Saquon Barkley, Giants

Ben Roethlisberger Throws 3 TDs to Lead Steelers Past Saquon Barkley, Giants

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) celebrates a touchdown against the New York Giants during an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Adam Hunger/Associated Press

The Pittsburgh Steelers took the first step toward ending their postseason drought of two years.

With Ben Roethlisberger back for the first time since September 2019, Pittsburgh defeated the New York Giants 26-16 in Monday’s Week 1 showdown at MetLife Stadium. Big Ben, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Benny Snell Jr. led the way in the effort and helped the Steelers join the Baltimore Ravens as the only AFC North teams at 1-0.

New York fell short at home despite a solid yardage day from Daniel Jones and two touchdowns from Darius Slayton, meaning it has now lost four consecutive season openers.

Notable Player Stats

  • Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT: 21-of-32 passing for 229 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INT
  • Benny Snell Jr., RB, PIT: 19 carries for 113 yards
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, PIT: 6 catches for 69 yards and 2 TDs
  • James Washington, WR, PIT: 2 catches for 34 yards and 1 TD
  • Daniel Jones, QB, NYG: 26-of-41 passing for 279 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs
  • Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG: 15 carries for 6 yards, 6 catches for 60 yards
  • Darius Slayton, WR, NYG: 6 catches for 102 yards and 2 TDs

Big Ben Notched Win in Return Game

All eyes were on Roethlisberger coming into Monday’s game.

After all, the future Hall of Famer played just two games last year because of an elbow injury that required surgery. His absence was a primary reason the Steelers missed the playoffs, as they played with Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges under center.

The biggest question was whether the six-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion would resemble what he was in his prime at 38 years old and coming off injury.

He didn’t look like his former self in the early going as New York pressured him into overthrows while he struggled to establish a rhythm. Rudolph was even shown warming up as Roethlisberger had a wrap on his right elbow.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

THAT CATCH WAS TOUGH.

(via @thecheckdown)
https://t.co/nRtwZTPPp2

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

JuJu’s first TD of the season.

WHO’S NEXT?!

(via @thecheckdown)
https://t.co/Sa6QWPQrjZ

Pittsburgh Steelers @steelers

No denying @JamesWashington from getting into the end zone‼️

📺 #PITvsNYG on ESPN https://t.co/cNxzqHZKXN

Pittsburgh Steelers @steelers

TD 2️⃣ for @TeamJuJu!

📺 #PITvsNYG on ESPN https://t.co/pu0EWEKdb1

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

JuJu 😂

2 TDs on the night. https://t.co/PNViEwbZqh

However, there were also flashes of brilliance.

Big Ben found rookie Chase Claypool, who made a fantastic catch, for a key third-down conversion to set up a field goal in the first quarter. He also threw two touchdown passes in the second quarter to take the lead for good, one to Smith-Schuster and the second to James Washington, who muscled his way into the end zone.

The flurry helped make up for the absence of running back James Conner, who exited with an ankle injury after just six carries and gave way to Snell. Snell ran well for stretches, and Roethlisberger made enough throws to come away with a win with his defense limiting the Giants on the other side.

Roethlisberger’s fourth-quarter touchdown strike to Smith-Schuster all but ended it.

Mistakes Doom Giants in Opening Loss

This was Joe Judge’s first game as a head coach after eight years as an assistant for the New England Patriots, and things could have gone much better for the Giants.

The offensive line failed to open up any holes for star running back Saquon Barkley, who only found space on screen passes designed to get him into the open field. Without Barkley putting up his typical numbers, Pittsburgh’s defense was able to focus on stopping Daniel Jones.

That was a recipe for disaster for the Giants, who were unable to overcome their young signal-caller’s mistakes.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

SAQUON HURDLES ARE BACK 😤

(via @thecheckdown)
https://t.co/fXpluWMwqS

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

DANNY DIMES TO SLAYTON 🔥

(via @NFL)
https://t.co/EjuBBKGBhb

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

T.J. Watt came out of nowhere for the pick 😯

(via @NFL)
https://t.co/iog2nxuLoE

Pittsburgh Steelers @steelers

MINE‼️

📺 #PITvsNYG on ESPN | @CamHeyward https://t.co/ny1p0HFvwp

Even when things appeared to go well for the Giants, momentum was fleeting. They recovered a muffed punt inside Pittsburgh’s 5-yard line in the first half but settled for a field goal. They followed an impressive touchdown throw from Jones to Slayton with an interception to T.J. Watt, which the Steelers parlayed into Smith-Schuster’s first touchdown.

New York even appeared to be driving to take the lead while facing a 16-10 deficit in the third quarter when Jones was hit as he threw. The ball fluttered right into Cameron Heyward’s arms in the end zone, and the Steelers turned that interception into a field goal and their first two-score lead.

Jones had one more chance to lead his team back while down 10 following a late touchdown pass to Slayton, but his two-point conversion attempt fell to the ground.

The Giants’ only realistic chance to compete is for Jones to clean up his mistakes and the offensive line to establish some type of consistency in front of Barkley. Until then, they will be playing from behind for much of the season.

What’s Next?

In Week 2, the Steelers will host the Denver Broncos while the Giants are at the Chicago Bears.

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