Preseason football may not mean much to many who watch, but they are everything to T.J. Watt and his fellow rookies. For most rookies and prospects, these games will be their first and last at the professional level. Some of them will get to have at least one on field moment before it’s over. Others will never make it off the sidelines. This week’s takeaways from the Pittsburgh Steelers win over the New York Giants includes four rookies who directly impacted the outcome. There were two key question going into this game regarding two of the rookies. Can Josh Dobbs lead the offense? Will T.J. Watt bring the hype to the field? The answer to both questions was a solid yes.
Rookies Who Stood Out
Josh Dobbs was named the starter for the Steelers and got off to a pretty rocky start. Following two bad interceptions among his first five passes, Dobbs completed seven out of his next eight including a touchdown. His two best throws of the night were both delivered to Cobi Hamilton. The first pass was for 44 yards, and the other was a 28 yards touchdown pass.
T.J. Watt came to the Steelers as a talented pass rusher with less than a year’s experience at his position. In his first NFL game however, Watt looked like a seasoned veteran. He collected a sack on his first two defensive series, totaled five tackles, and a deflected pass. Watt’s first sack came on third and seven, after fighting off an Erik Flowers block. Watt’s second sack showed off his instincts. Not biting on a fake handoff to his left resulted in Watt dropping Josh Johnson for an eight yard loss.
Terrell Watson was the most productive running back during last Friday nights game. Running with a nice blend of speed and power, Watson created his own holes when necessary. He picked up 44 tough yards on 10 carries, including his 15 yard touchdown.
Mike Hilton showed up and made his presence known with a special teams fumble recovery late in the first half. His recovery led to the Steelers go ahead touchdown. Hilton registered a third down sack on blitz up the middle, looking like he was shot out of a cannon. He nearly recorded a sack on another blitz. It is certainly looking like he could at least replace Senquez Golson at this point.
Defensive Line Was Very Active
The Steelers spent a good portion of the game mixing up looks in a base 3-4 defense. This seemed to cause the Giants offense a great deal of confusion early on, especially Giants quarterback Josh Johnson. Throughout the first half the defensive line got consistent penetration and disrupted their game plan, forcing five three and outs. It’s already evident how much the addition of Tyson Alualu is going to mean to the defensive line. His talent and versatility is going to help keep everyone fresh throughout the season.
Brian Allen Watch Is On
Did anyone else notice the potential touchdown pass that Brian Allen down near the goal line? Allen let his man get behind him but recovered nicely to break up the pass. Jordan Dangerfield did a nice job of providing backup on the play, knocking the deflected ball out of harm’s way. Allen may not have had a great game, but he played well enough to earn some extra looks.
All in all it was a pretty good effort by the Steelers for their first time out. They left us with a lot to feel good about for their home opener against the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday. Perhaps the part is that the Steelers came out of the game as healthy as they went into it. The only injury of note was JuJu Smith-Schuster and his need to be put into concussion protocol.