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By: Jared Villani @JVillain10

The highly anticipated return of Pittsburgh Steelers football did not get off quite the way we all had hoped as Diontae Johnson‘s first punt return of the season was muffed and gave the New York Giants prime field position well within the red-zone.

The Giants were held in check by the vaunted Steelers defense, but ultimately Graham Gano produced the first points of the game with a 21-yard field goal to put New York ahead 3 to 0.

After some back and forth lackluster play by both offenses, the Steelers made the next move with a huge 28-yard reception from rookie Chase Claypool on a perfectly placed toss by the greatly missed Ben Roethlisberger. The reception set up Chris Boswell for a 41-yard field goal to tie the game at 3 to 3.

The Steelers defensive front was making things anything but easy for star running back Saquon Barkley, but Giants quarterback Daniel Jones took advantage of blown coverage and found Darius Slayton deep downfield for a 41-yard touchdown strike. New York took over the lead again 10 to 3.

The Steelers did not take particularly long to answer back after DPOY candidate T.J. Watt picked off Daniel Jones on the first play of a fresh New York drive. Roethlisberger concluded this drive by finding his favorite target JuJu Smith-Schuster on a 10-yard touchdown pass. Unfortunately a rare miss on an extra point attempt by Boswell still left Pittsburgh behind 10 to 9.

Although JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson are the most talked about receivers amongst the Steelers talented pass-catchers, James Washington needed everyone to take notice after a display of strength and determination to find his way into the end-zone. Washington could simply not be denied on this play and put the Steelers ahead 16 to 10 heading into the second half.

The Giants looked to be gaining momentum as they marched down field on their first possession of the second half, but a 19-play drive by the Giants was all for not as big Cam Heyward joined the party and got an interception of his own to take the wind right out of the Giants sails. Pressure came from a great effort and hustle play from Bud Dupree. Boswell got his chance to redeem himself after the failed extra point and gave Pittsburgh a 9-point lead with 36-yard field goal.

Unfortunately for the Giants, Pittsburgh was far from done on the offensive end and Roethlisberger’s nerves from earlier in the game appeared to be a thing of the past. Benny Snell Jr. filled in for James Conner after an apparent ankle injury, moving with ferocity on a 30-yard run. Snell’s play gave the Steelers great field position well-within the red-zone and Roethlisberger found Smith-Schuster for yet another touchdown. After Smith-Schuster’s 8-yard touchdown reception, Boswell helped the Steelers increase their lead at 26 to 10.

The Giants made their best efforts to overcome two costly interceptions with another touchdown connection between Daniel Jones and Darius Slayton, but the Steelers resiliency reigned supreme late in this game. Pittsburgh’s season got off to an impressive start with a 26 to 16 victory over the New York Giants.

Steelers Stat Leaders

Ben Roethlisberger 21-32 229 Yards 3 Touchdowns

Benny Snell Jr. 19 Carries 113 Yards

JuJu Smith-Schuster 6 Receptions 69 Yards 2 Touchdowns

Vince Williams 5 Tackles 3 Tackles for loss 1 Sack

Terrell Edmunds 9 Tackles

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