NFL Preseason Preview - NY Giants (0-0) at Pittsburgh (0-0) (ET)
(Sports Network) - Two of the NFL's most storied franchises kick off the preseason with a standalone game on Saturday night when the Pittsburgh Steelers play host to the New York Giants in the Steel City.
What a difference a year makes for Big Blue. The Giants finished the 2011 season 9-7, got hot at the right time and won the Super Bowl. In 2012 that same 9-7 mark wasn't even good enough to get them to the postseason dance and a lot of people now look at New York as a descending club.
The offense certainly needs some tweaks and the signing of former Oakland tight end Brandon Myers could really help Eli Manning. The offensive line, however, remains pedestrian even after reaching for Syracuse guard/tackle Justin Pugh with the 19th overall pick in the draft.
On defense, the line is a concern. New York struggled mightily against the run and saw its once vaunted pass rush evaporate into a non-entity a year ago. When the Giants were winning Super Bowls, it was usually because of Manning along with the pass rush. Osi Umenyiora is now in Atlanta, Justin Tuck has seen his better days and Jason Pierre-Paul was closer to ordinary than J.J. Watt a season ago. Keep an eye on third-round pick Damontre Moore, who has excelled early in camp and could help.
There is also plenty of work to be done in Pittsburgh as age has slowly crept up on the Steelers. In fact, this could be the most important training camp for the Steelers in years as they have to find answers at multiple positions.
Pittsburgh has moved on from former Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison, veteran nose tackle Casey Hampton and really can't count on oft- injured safety Troy Polamalu. Meanwhile, two of the team's younger playmakers, wide receiver Mike Wallace and cornerback Keenan Lewis jetted in free agency to Miami and New Orleans, respectively.
Former Georgia star Jarvis Jones said he would never get past the Steelers in the draft and sure enough he didn't. It's almost like the whole league conspires to give Pittsburgh impact 3-4 players. Poor 40 times sent Jones crashing out of the top 10, but the Steelers may have gotten a Terrell Suggs- like steal in the first round.
Pittsburgh also may have found their successor to the declining Polamalu in fourth-round choice Shamarko Thomas, an undersized, high-energy thumper on the back end.
Offensively, second-rounder Le'Veon Bell is supposed to install some of that Jerome Bettis-like toughness back into Pittsburgh's running game but he is a big back who doesn't run like one most of the time and hasn't shown the nastiness as runner the Steelers expect from their backs.
This will be the second preseason meeting between these two teams since 2010 but it is only the fourth time the two franchises have met in the preseason since 1992. It's also the first time the Giants will play a preseason contest at Heinz Field and just the second trip overall. Pittsburgh has won its last five preseason home openers and has taken four straight from the NYG at exhibition time.
- New York Field Goal - 23-yarder by Josh Brown. 10:24 remaining.
Pittsburgh Field Goal - 34-yarder by Shaun Suisham. 4:12
New York Touchdown - 57-yard pass from Eli Manning to Victor
Cruz. (Josh Brown kick). 1:10 remaining.
- Pittsburgh Field Goal - 41-yarder by Shaun Suisham. 9:08
New York Field Goal - 30-yarder by Josh Brown. 0:00 remaining.
- New York Safety - Landry Jones tackled in the end zone. 11:50
- Pittsburgh Touchdown - Adrian Robinson fumble recovery in the end
zone. (Danny Hrapmann kick). 12:04 remaining.
New York Field Goal - 47-yarder by Josh Brown. 4:32 remaining.
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Victor Cruz hauled in a 57-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning in the New York Giants' 18-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the preseason opener for both teams.
The former undrafted free-agent Cruz, who led the Giants in receptions (86), receiving yards (1,092) and touchdown grabs (10) in 2012, signed a five-year contract extension during the offseason.
Eli Manning was 2-of-5 for 73 yards for the Giants, whose 9-7 mark a year ago wasn't good enough to make the postseason. David Wilson carried the ball five times for 16 yards in the triumph.
Ben Roethlisberger completed 4-of-8 passes for 36 yards for Pittsburgh, which has moved on from former Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison and veteran nose tackle Casey Hampton to go along with two of the team's younger playmakers, wide receiver Mike Wallace and cornerback Keenan Lewis, who jetted in free agency to Miami and New Orleans, respectively.
LaRod Stephens-Howling picked up 40 yards on the ground on seven carries in defeat.
The Steelers missed the postseason for the first time since 2009 a year ago.
The teams traded field goals before Manning found Cruz deep the seam later in the frame for the 57-yard score and a 10-3 Giants advantage.
Shaun Suisham and Josh Brown again exchanged field goals in the second and a safety in the third quarter gave New York a 15-6 advantage.
Adrian Robinson recovered a fumble in the end zone for Pittsburgh in the fourth to trim the deficit to 15-13.
Brown booted through a field goal later in the quarter to make it 18-13 and the Steelers were unable to convert a 4-and-20 near midfield with 1:04 remaining to seal the outcome.