EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 14: Head coach Joe Judge of the New York Giants reacts against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter in the game at MetLife Stadium on September 14, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The New York Giants fought hard but were unable to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers for Joe Judge in his coaching debut.

Jason Leach

The New York Giants looked to kick off the Joe Judge era as they played inspired football in the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But it wasn’t enough to secure the win as they fell to the Steelers 26-16 on Monday Night Football.

Big Blue would score the first points of the game following a muffed punt by Steelers punt returner Diontae Johnson that the Giants recovered at the Steelers three-yard line. But the Giants couldn’t push the ball across the goal line and they had to settle for a Graham Gano 21-yard field goal.

The Steelers would tie the game with 49 seconds remaining in the first quarter on a Chris Boswell 41-yard field goal.

The Giants would retake the lead on the following drive as they drove the ball 75 yards on eight plays culminating in a Daniel Jones 41-yard touchdown to Darius Slayton to put them up 10-3 with 13:45 remaining in the second quarter.

However, the Steelers would start to gain momentum in the game. They cut their deficit to 10-9 on a Roethlisberger 10-yard touchdown to JuJu Smith-Schuster but the extra point failed.

Then with just seven seconds remaining in the half Roethlisberger connected with James Washington on a 13-yard touchdown, giving the Steelers a 16-10 halftime lead.

It appeared as if the Giants were about to take back control of the game in the second half. After the defense forced the Steelers to punt after five plays on the opening drive of the second half, the Giants went on a long 19-play drive 87-yard drive that took eight minutes and 53 seconds.

But the final play was a disastrous one. From the Steelers’ four-yard line, Jones rolled to his left and threw an ill-advised pass that was deflected by Bud Dupree, and intercepted by Cameron Heyward in the end zone for a touchback.

This was definitely the back-breaking play of the game.

The Steelers would ride the momentum of this play and drove the ball 62 yards on nine plays that ended with a with Chris Boswell 36-yard field goal with 14:19 remaining in the game to extend their lead to 19-10.

Big Blue couldn’t put a halt to that momentum as the offense went three and out on the next possession. Then 11 plays later, the Steelers put the game out of reach as Roethlisberger again for a touchdown, this time from eight yards out to make the score 26-10.

The Giants would close out the scoring on the game as they drove the ball 75 yards on 13 plays that ended with Jones’ second touchdown pass to Slayton from seven yards out to make the score 26-16. The Giants failed to convert on the two-point attempt and failed to recover the onside kick.

The Steelers would run the clock out to end the game.

The positives

Nobody likes moral victories but there were some positives in the loss such as Darius Slayton seeming poised to have a huge second season as he finished the game with six receptions for 102 yards and the two touchdowns.

In addition, you can’t deny the energy and the aggressiveness the defense played in the first half.

The negatives

The biggest negative from this game was the fact that the offensive line lost the battle of the line of scrimmage against the Steelers front seven as Saquon Barkley was held to six rushing yards on 15 carries. Often Barkley was tackled by a defender as soon as he got the ball.

While Daniel Jones didn’t fumble the ball on Monday Night he still showed that he’s turnover prone in throwing two costly interceptions. The Giants aren’t good enough to overcome losing the turnover battle.

While the defense played well for most of the first half, they began to fade on the last possession of the first half which is a big reason the Steelers scored 23 unanswered points after being down 10-3. The rush defense also allowed Pittsburgh to gain 141 yards on the ground with 113 of those yards coming from running back Benny Snell Jr.

The Giants will look to rebound Sunday in Chicago against the Bears.

Jason's first love was football while growing up in northern New Jersey. For the past three years, he has covered the New York Giants, as well as several boxing events along the East Coast.