Pittsburgh Steelers can take more bad than good from preseason loss


Aug 10, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers punter Drew Butler (9) has his punt blocked by New York Giants defensive end Damontre Moore (79) during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ first exhibition game certainly played out as expected: a stumbling and bumbling beginning to 2013.

Headed into their first match-up of the year, coach Mike Tomlin preached recovery from mistakes as being one of the top questions for his young team to answer against the New York Giants. They obliged by providing plenty of blunders to improve on.


It took less than four minutes for the Steelers’ special-teams unit to blow their “special” moniker. Incumbent punter Drew Butler, who is fighting veteran Brian Moorman for the starting gig, boomed a 55-yard punt; however, backup inside linebacker Marshall McFadden was flagged for ineligible man downfield, forcing a re-kick.

Butler’s second (and final) punt of the day was blocked by Giants rookie defensive end Damontre Moore who flew past back-up safety Damon Cromartie-Smith. Four plays later the Giants were up 3-0.

The Steelers planned to use the preseason games to find a starting punt and kick returner. Former Utah star Reggie Dunn handled the first punt for a boring 4-yard return. But fellow wideout David Gilreath made sure his time at returner stood out. On his first return, Gilreath made the ill-advised decision to field a deep punt instead of letting it bounce into the end zone. Rookie receiver Justin Brown amped up the damage with a block in the back penalty.

This forced Brown’s former Sooner teammate and fellow rookie Landry Jones to start his first play as a NFL quarterback on his own 4-yard line. It proved to be too much of a test. Jones and running back Baron Batch misfired on the handoff, causing a safety and putting the Giants on top 15-6.

Aug 10, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Al Woods (65) reacts after registering a sack against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The New York Giants won 18-13. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Gilreath’s third attempt at punt returner was even more entertaining. He muffed it, giving the ball back to Giants with just 28 yards to score. Thankfully, rookie defenders Brian Arnfelt and Brian Rolle, alongside player of the game Al Woods, shut down the Giants offense and kicker Josh Brown shanked the 38-yard field goal.

Reggie Dunn took the final two punts of the night and had a 19-yard gain. Chances are Dunn will a few more opportunities to shine against Washington on Monday night.


There were not a lot of positives on Saturday night concerning depth of the offensive line, cornerback and tight end.

Second- and third-team offensive line combinations:
LT: Guy Whimper, D’Anthony Batiste
LG: Chris Hubbard, John Maecki
C: John Maelcki, Justin Cheadle
RG: Justin Cheadle, John Malecki
RT: Kelvin Beachum

Steelers running backs gained just 14 yards on the ground after the departure of the starting offensive line. They also gave up four sacks in the fourth quarter. Sounds like new O-line coach Jerry Bicknell needs to get back to the basics with this group.

At tight end the Steelers started David Paulson and Michael Palmer. Palmer played just two days after being added to the roster due to the injury to Jamie McCoy, last year’s No. 4 tight end on the depth chart. The 6-foot-5, 252-pound Palmer formerly played for the Atlanta Falcons as a blocking tight end.

Rookie Peter Tuitupou and Nathan Overbay, who was cut from the Detroit Lions this summer, round out the rest of the tight end bunch. Since Matt Spaeth is out for a couple months and David Johnson has yet to return to practice, the Steelers may need someone to step up quickly.

With the injury to new starter Cortez Allen, William Gay started at right corner. He was the one beat by Victor Cruz for a 55-yard touchdown. Josh Victorian and Isaiah Green took over for the second team unit. Victorian appeared to return to where he left off last season— 10 yards behind the receiver he is supposed to be covering. Green fared a better at right corner but there was no reason to throw his way since they were having success against Victorian.

Given the Steelers’ current injuries at corner — DeMarcus Van Dyke, Curtis Brown, and Allen – secondary coach Carnell Lake has three weeks to find the No. 4 CB. And they really thought drafting a quarterback in Round 4 was more important than offensive tackle or cornerback?