By Paul Dottino
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PITTSBURGH – The coach’s mission was accomplished. Tom Coughlin got every eligible player in the game as the Giants beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 18-13 Friday at Heinz Field. It also does not appear that the team suffered any injuries to those expected to be on the final 53.
1. The return game. There were few opportunities to return either punts or kickoffs, which means it was difficult for any players to help themselves in this area.
On kickoffs, RB Michael Cox was given a chance to show what he can do by the coaches but was forced to deal with touchbacks. WR Jerrel Jernigan had the team’s only return of the night and it went for 27 yards.
On punts, CB Charles James – who may have a chance at making the practice squad if he can show something on special teams – had a nifty 20-yard return, providing the game’s only return highlight. Fellow corner Jayron Hosley had no room on his 4-yard return and the other punts were not returnable.
2. The super six? The most obvious thing we can say about this unit is that MLB Dan Connor helped himself in the battle against Mark Herzlich, who struggled as a starter.
Connor was active against the run and did his best to keep up downfield with the RBs and TEs, although that was a bit of a chore.
The Giants’ interior rushing defense showed improvement, yet they were not nearly as effective along the outside. The sub-package combo of LBs Spencer Paysinger and Jacquian Williams had some rough spots when the Steelers decided to run against this scheme.
However, Paysinger and Williams were very active. OLB Keith Rivers also was very active and in on two tackles during his time with the starters. OLB Aaron Curry played with the second- and third-string and assisted on one hit.
3. Pick-up game. The Giants did not run very many plays that required their running backs to stay in and pick up a blitz. Of note, Andre Brown had one very strong blitz pickup. On another play, David Wilson was not as effective when he went low to try to cut down a blitzer.
There were really only two significant plays in the passing game and both came while QB Eli Manning was in charge. He rifled a perfect 57-yard TD pass to WR Victor Cruz on a post pattern. Cruz turned on the burners after making the catch and outran two Pittsburgh defenders to the end zone.
The Giants had to settle for a field goal attempt on a trip inside the Red Zone because of what appeared to be a miscommunication between Manning and WR Louis Murphy. Murphy ran a fade to the right corner and Manning looked as if he was looking for another route before he fired an overthrow out of bounds in Murphy’s direction.
Hashmarks – We’ve been telling you since rookie minicamp that rookie DE Damontre Moore is lightning quick off the edge and has the potential to be a contributor this season. He wasted little time – posting four tackles and a block punt to go along with an unofficial six pressures. … Rookie DT Jonathan Hankins also showed some flashes with his inside activity against the run. … CB Trumaine McBride (who had a tackle on special teams) did well playing opposite Aaron Ross with the second string, with CB Jayron Hosley as the second-string slot corner. … Rookie QB Ryan Nassib (1-4 for 29 yards) had a rough pro debut with the back of the roster in the fourth quarter, although his 29-yard completion to WR Julian Talley set up the final field goal.
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