New York Giants: Pittsburgh Steelers

Notebook: Nassib's rocky start; Adams out

August, 11, 2013
Kris AdamsJason Bridge/USA TODAY SportsGiants receiver Kris Adams was carted off the field with a broken leg.
PITTSBURGH -- Ryan Nassib's preseason debut got off to a shaky start.

The rookie quarterback's first drive in the fourth quarter started with a 5-yard false-start penalty on Stephen Goodin. Nassib was sacked on the next play for a 3-yard loss. Two plays later, Nassib was flagged for delay of game on a third-and-17. Then, on the ensuing third-and-22 from the Giants' 16, a bad snap sailed past Nassib and Pittsburgh recovered for a touchdown to cut the Giants' lead to 15-13 with 12:04 remaining.

Nassib would take another sack on the next possession. But with 8:19 remaining, the fourth-round pick led the Giants on a 10-play, 54-yard drive that resulted in a field goal with 4:32 left. Nassib also completed a pass for 29 yards to Julian Talley on the drive.

[+] EnlargeRyan Nassib
Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY SportsThe Steelers swarmed Ryan Nassib in the fourth.
"We'll have to let Ryan play some," said coach Tom Coughlin, who used Nassib behind Eli Manning, David Carr and Curtis Painter. "He was chased all over the place. He made the one play down the sidelines. We thought he might have gotten another one but he didn't have a whole lot of time. We need to work on that.

"He did make the play, though, that got the drive going to kick the field goal that kept it out of field goal range for [the Steelers]."

Injury report: Coughlin's mood after the Giants' preseason-opening win was subdued because of two injuries.

Kris Adams, a second-year wideout from UTEP, suffered a fractured lower leg in the third quarter. Adams was competing for a roster spot behind Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Louis Murphy and Jerrel Jernigan.

Also, backup guard Chris DeGeare suffered an MCL injury, according to the Giants, when a teammate unintentionally rolled up on DeGeare's right leg.

Brown fumble: Coughlin wasn't pleased to see Andre Brown fumble a pitch right early in the second quarter to give the Steelers the ball at the Giants' 44.

"His eyes never went to the ball," Coughlin said. "He was looking at the rush and fumbled. By the time he got to where he started looking for the ball, the defenders were on him. That was disappointing."

Brown and starter David Wilson combined for a total of 39 yards on nine carries. Seventh-round pick Michael Cox led the team in rushing with 33 yards.

"It wasn't much to talk about," Coughlin said of the running game. "I don't know how many chances we had. It wasn't anything great. We played that first offensive line a few more plays than we intended. We'll have to improve in that area. No question."

The 411: S Tyler Sash helped his cause for making the team. He had a safety and a fumble recovery on a muffed Pittsburgh punt. He also added four tackles and batted a pass down. ... Backup TE Larry Donnell saw some snaps at fullback behind fellow TE Bear Pascoe, who has been filling in for the injured Henry Hynoski. ... Spencer Paysinger led the Giants with five tackles. ... DE Adewale Ojomo continued his preseason sack magic by adding 1.5 in late-game action. ... DE Justin Trattou and CB Charles James each had one sack.

Damontre shows his 'DaMonster' alter ego

August, 11, 2013
Damontre MooreAP Photo/Don WrightDamontre Moore's blocked punt set up the Giants' first score.
PITTSBURGH -- The New York Giants might have yet another young, talented pass-rusher on their hands.

On Saturday night, Damontre Moore continued an impressive training camp with an outstanding preseason debut in the Giants' 18-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Moore blocked a punt and had four tackles -- one for a loss -- one quarterback hit and a couple of pressures. He also disrupted short passes to running backs.

"Moore obviously was a problem for Pittsburgh," coach Tom Coughlin said. "He keeps coming and he likes it."

[+] EnlargeDamontre Moore
Jason Bridge/USA TODAY SportsDamontre Moore doesn't turn 21 until next month.
The Giants drafted Moore in the third round from Texas A&M, at which he had 26.5 sacks in three seasons. But Coughlin said Moore needed to improve his work habits during the week leading up to games. Considering that he's only 20, Moore figured to be more of a prospect for the near future than a rookie who could come in and make an instant impact.

But thus far, Moore has shown he could be more than just a prospect to develop. He was a presence with his speed, which was on display when he exploded out of nowhere and made a leaping block on a fourth-and-29 punt at the Steelers' 17 with 11:27 to go in the first quarter.

Louis Murphy recovered the punt and got the Giants to the Pittsburgh 5-yard line. Though the Giants had to settle for a field goal, Moore had already made a monster play that only seemed fitting for a player nicknamed "DaMonster" in college.

"I just ran in and got a little hitch step and I was there to make a play," Moore said. "It was all surprising to me. I'm just glad Coach put me in a great situation."

When the Giants drafted Moore, they figured his quickest way toward being active on game days would be on special teams. But Moore showed he can potentially be a factor in the pass-rushing rotation. After Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka, the Giants need a fourth pass-rusher to step up. They have used tackle Cullen Jenkins at defensive end, but Adrian Tracy and Moore are competing to be a part of the rotation.

Tuck raved about Moore's potential last week. Moore might be ready to contribute this season.

"I feel like it was all right," Moore said of his performance. "There is always room for improvement. I made a lot of mistakes out there. I'm just ready to watch some film and get better."

Cruz, Eli pick up where they left off

August, 11, 2013

PITTSBURGH –- Victor Cruz spent the majority of his offseason away from the New York Giants' practice facility, due to contract negotiations.

Cruz never stopped working out -- but he wasn't catching passes from Eli Manning, either. On Saturday, in the Giants' preseason opener at Pittsburgh, Cruz and Manning made it look like they never missed a single offseason practice together.

On a third-and-4 from the Giants' 43, Cruz ran down the seam of the Steelers' defense, past the secondary and caught a 57-yard touchdown pass from Manning near the end of the first quarter to propel the Giants toward an 18-13 win.

[+] EnlargeVictor Cruz
AP Photo/Gene J. PuskarVictor Cruz delivered the biggest play of the Giants' victory on Saturday night.
Cruz celebrated with an abbreviated version of his trademark salsa dance. The real dance is reserved for the regular season.

"Just did one or two steps," Cruz explained. "Didn't want to give it the full gamut just yet because it is the preseason. [But] the Salsa is still going strong."

Cruz certainly showed that on his touchdown catch. He got past William Gay and slipped by Pittsburgh safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark on the way to the end zone.

Even though it was his only catch of the night, Cruz showed that he has not missed a beat with Manning despite the receiver's absence from OTAs and minicamp.

"You kind of feel good, and you kind of feel like you are still in the swing of it," he said of his touchdown catch. "It felt good for me and Eli to be on the same page. He read my body [language] perfectly, and the ball was placed right where it needed to be.

"It feels good to kind of be in, I guess, somewhat midseason form so early on."

Cruz, 26, is entering his third season as a starter. He has had at least 82 catches, 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns receiving in the past two seasons.

After months of stalled negotiations, Cruz came to terms with the Giants on a six-year, $45.879 million contract. Despite the new contract, Cruz didn't feel any added pressure to prove that he's worth the money.

"It didn't really feel any different," Cruz said of playing with the new contract. "This time, it was relaxed. I didn't feel any pressure. I didn't feel like I had to go prove something. I felt like I was out there playing my game."

Manning certainly hopes there will be more big plays to come with Cruz.

"We've hooked up on a lot of passes over the years," Manning said. "So it's good to get off to a good start. It's good to know that we can get back to making plays when we need to."

Cruz never felt he had to make up for lost time from the missed practice sessions earlier this offseason.

"Me and Eli just have such a great rapport that we can go out there and I'll be on the same page," Cruz said. "He can tell me what he is thinking and I can apply it."

Rapid Reaction: Giants 18, Steelers 13

August, 10, 2013

PITTSBURGH –- Eli Manning and Victor Cruz showed they are still very much on the same page, and rookie defensive end Damontre Moore looked impressive in the Giants' 18-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday in their preseason opener.

What it means: The Giants have some work to do, but there are reasons to believe they can be explosive on offense. Manning and Cruz looked like they were in midseason form.

It's clear the Giants have a variety of personnel options on defense. The run defense, however, had difficulty slowing down Pittsburgh's ground game in the first half.

The Salsa is back: Cruz missed valuable offseason training time with Manning due to the Pro Bowl receiver's contract negotiations. But Cruz showed why the Giants gave him $45.879 million over six years. Cruz burned the Steelers' secondary for a 57-yard touchdown catch from Manning near the end of the first quarter, which led to his first salsa dance of the year.

"It's great to be on the same page with your quarterback," Cruz said. "Eli and I work hard on that. When things are clicking, you really get the results you want."

DaMonster: Moore lived up to his college nickname of "DaMonster" in his preseason debut. After looking impressive in camp, the team’s third-round pick blocked a punt and had three tackles, a couple of pressures and one quarterback hit all in the first half. Moore disrupted a couple of short passes and looked incredibly active.

Moore's blocked punt with 11:27 to go in the first quarter was recovered by Louis Murphy and set the Giants up with first-and-goal at the Pittsburgh 5-yard line. The Giants' offense, though, failed to gain a yard and settled for a field goal.

Moore has been competing with Adrian Tracy to be the fourth defensive end once Jason Pierre-Paul returns from back surgery. If Moore keeps this up, he'll see snaps in the defensive end rotation behind JPP, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka.

Stop the run: The Giants made a concerted effort in the offseason to bolster their run defense. But the Steelers racked up 81 yards on 17 carries in the first half, including 36 yards on a 13-play drive in the first quarter. The Steelers had success running the ball without their prized rookie Le'Veon Bell, who did not play due to a knee injury.

Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell shuffled in many of his tackles and ends. Cullen Jenkins started at defensive end as the Giants opened with Linval Joseph and Shaun Rogers inside. Second-round pick Johnathan Hankins and Mike Patterson also saw a lot of first-half snaps.

The Giants also took a long look at starting linebackers Mark Herzlich, Spencer Paysinger and Keith Rivers while shuffling in Jacquian Williams a bit in the first half.

Injuries: Backup wide receiver Kris Adams suffered a fractured lower leg in the third quarter.

Tuck (back), wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (groin), right guard Chris Snee (hip), cornerback Terrell Thomas (knee), tackle Justin Pugh (concussion), tackle James Brewer (concussion), safety Cooper Taylor (hamstring) and running back Ryan Torain (concussion) did not play.

What's next: The Giants won't play again until Aug. 18 at home against Andrew Luck and the Colts. Hopefully Ahmad Bradshaw will be active and make a homecoming.

W2W4: Giants at Steelers

August, 9, 2013
The New York Giants begin erasing the memory of last season's failed title defense with their preseason opener in Pittsburgh.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Here's what to watch for:

Start, then finished: The starters will play only about 12 to 15 snaps, according to coach Tom Coughlin. It will be interesting to see if Eli Manning is in sync with Victor Cruz after not having worked with him for much of the offseason, due to Cruz's contract negotiations. The two have appeared to be on the same page during training camp. We also get our first look at how Manning works with tight end Brandon Myers.

Wide receiver Rueben Randle looks to continue an impressive summer. It remains to be seen if Hakeem Nicks will play, as the team has been taking a cautious approach with its star receiver to make sure he will be at full strength for the season.

Wilson! We should get our first glimpse at David Wilson as the starting back. He's expected to start but share carries with Andre Brown. What might be more important than how many yards Wilson racks up is how he blocks on passing plays.

Keep an eye on the linebackers. All three starting jobs are up for grabs. Mark Herzlich will start at middle linebacker with Spencer Paysinger and Keith Rivers on the outside against the Steelers. MLB Dan Connor, OLB Jacquian Williams and OLB Aaron Curry are the second-teamers. Williams should also see snaps as a nickel linebacker.

Competition at defensive tackle. The Giants fortified their defensive interior by adding Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson, drafting Johnathan Hankins and re-signing Shaun Rogers. Jenkins could start at defensive end against the Steelers if Justin Tuck (back) does not play. If that happens, Rogers might join Linval Joseph with the first-team defensive tackles. Keep an eye on Hankins, who has impressed thus far on the second team. Marvin Austin, the 2011 second-round pick, will need to show what he can do this preseason.

Opportunity knocks: There should be plenty of chances for young players such as defensive ends Adrian Tracy and Damontre Moore. Several Giants, including Jason Pierre-Paul (back), won't play. Right guard Chris Snee (hip) and cornerback Terrell Thomas (knee) just came off the PUP list this week and will sit. First-round pick Justin Pugh (concussion) will also be out. Tackle James Brewer (head), safety Cooper Taylor (hamstring) and running back Ryan Torain (head) also might not suit up.

Mundy, Brown reunited as Giants safeties

August, 9, 2013
When Ryan Mundy was entering his senior year at Michigan, an incoming freshman occasionally crashed on his couch during the summer.

That freshman was a young safety with potential named Stevie Brown.

"Man, Steve just used to always call me when he was about 20 minutes away," Mundy recalled, shaking his head. "I used to be like, 'Dude, you got to give me at least a day's heads-up [before coming over], but he would be like, 'I'm two exits away.'"

That was the summer of 2006. Seven years later, the two are reunited in the New York Giants' secondary. Brown enters this season as a starting safety opposite Antrel Rolle, and Mundy hopes to be the team's third safety.

[+] EnlargeRyan Mundy
AP Photo/Seth WenigRyan Mundy, sporting Kenny Phillips' old uniform number, is in his first Giants training camp.
After playing five seasons as a backup for the Steelers, Mundy will make his Giants debut in the preseason opener in Pittsburgh on Saturday night.

Mundy, 28, is eager to show what he can do after playing behind Steelers safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark.

"I am excited," said Mundy, who was born and raised in Pittsburgh. "I thought it was extremely ironic that my first game as a non-Steeler is against the Steelers.

"I had a great opportunity to learn from two of the game's best in Troy and Ryan," Mundy added. "I spent five years under their tutelage and learned as much as I can. This is when it really shows its face, when I get from under their wing and have an opportunity to display what I have learned from them."

In his first summer with the Giants, Mundy has impressed coaches and teammates with his professionalism and play on the field. His transition to a new team and system has been aided by his good friend Brown.

The Giants hope the two former Wolverines will help fill the void left by longtime starter Kenny Phillips, who joined Philadelphia in free agency, and provide a third safety presence for Perry Fewell, who has utilized three safety packages in the past.

"I played with [Phillips] the last three years and we know each other in and out, without even communicating," said Rolle, who spent a lot of the offseason hanging out with Brown to form a bond. "Stevie and I are getting to that point. We are working. We are very versatile right now: We are playing left safety, right safety, strong safety, free safety. It doesn't matter what it is, we are just jelling."

"Mundy is a true professional," Rolle added. "He takes his game very seriously on and off the field. We are all pretty much on the same level and we are all making plays."

Rolle says Brown is much more comfortable in his second season with the Giants. Last year, Brown was just trying to make the team. He went on to be the surprise of the season, collecting a team-high eight interceptions and returning them for 307 yards.

Brown, 26, hopes that feeling more comfortable and knowing the defense will lead to even better results.

"This is the first time I have been in the same system since my sophomore year in college and had the same D-coordinator since my sophomore year at Michigan," said Brown, who played for Oakland in 2010 and Indianapolis in 2011 before joining the Giants last year. "So it definitely brings a lot of comfort level to me. I already know what happened last year and I can learn the little things this year."

Mundy has immersed himself into the Giants' defensive playbook. He is meticulous about his approach, almost in a Coughlin-like manner.

"Mundy has a more militant style of approaching the game," Rolle says. "Doesn't want to make a mistake, wants to know the ins and outs of the defense, being that this is a new system for him. He is doing a great job so far."

Last year, Brown capitalized with his first major opportunity as a starter. Now Mundy wants to show what he can do if given the chance.

And Mundy will do it with the support of a guy who once used to look to him for a couch to crash on.

"Things come full circle," Mundy said. "And we are teammates again."

Halftime Reaction: Giants 14, Steelers 10

November, 4, 2012
EAST RUTHERFORD N.J. -- A week after Hurricane Sandy hit the Tri-State area hard, Giants fans braved gas lines to reach a MetLife Stadium or, from the looks of the terrible towels, sold their seats to the travel-ready Pittsburgh fans.

At the half, the Giants lead the Steelers 14-10.

Steelers adapt without Mendenhall: Isaac Redman had 14 carries for 87 yards in the first half -- including a 17-yard run in the first scoring drive of the game. The Steelers scored first but Giants amped up pressure on their quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and it started to pay off.

Bradshaw does all the work, Brown gets TD: The Giants tied the game 7-7 on an 8-play drive during which running back Ahmad Bradshaw had five carries for 18 yards, but Andre brown got to punch it in the last yard for the score.

Close call for Cruz: Victor Cruz went down hard in the end zone right before the Giants scored. It took him about a minute to get up, but when he did he hit his chest a few times and jogged back to the bench. The wide receiver was announced with a rib injury but returned on the next series. Cruz had a long rest however. Before he could get back on the field, linebacker Michael Boley ran back a fumble for the Giants, keeping the defense on the field.

Jason Pierre-Paul had his knee examined on the sideline but then returned and immediately sacked Roethlisberger.

On the Steelers, wide receiver Antonio Brown left the game with a left ankle and his return was designated probable.

Tynes' Miss: The Giants were set up to add a field goal before the end of the first half, but a rare miss by kicker Lawrence Tynes left the Giants up 14-7. The 31 seconds left however was just enough time for Roethlisberger to get the Steelers in field goal range, hitting passes of 24 and 23 yards, and kicker Shaun Suisham hit it to cut the Giants lead to 14-10.

Giants hope to lift fans' spirits Sunday

November, 1, 2012
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants had their first "normal" day of work Thursday, after having their schedule adjusted the previous three days due to Hurricane Sandy.

But in addition to all the chatter about their upcoming opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, there continued to be talk about the storm.

Coach Tom Coughlin was asked if his team feels any special responsibility this week, after what befell the local area.

"There's no question about that," Coughlin said. "We haven't talked much about that. There will be a time and place for talking about that."

Sounds like an emotional pregame pep talk could be forthcoming.

The NBA postponed the Knicks-Nets game scheduled for Thursday night at the Barclays Center. But all indications are that the Giants-Steelers game will go off as planned Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.

Quarterback Eli Manning spoke Wednesday about being hopeful the Giants could give "a little joy" to those fans affected by the hurricane.

Some teammates echoed those sentiments Thursday.

"I think a lot of people will kind of be lingering on what we do on Sunday," said defensive end Justin Tuck, "(to) kind of get their minds off the effects of Sandy, and hopefully we can oblige."

"We're taking care of each other," said running back Ahmad Bradshaw. "Hopefully, we can take care of New York and it will be a good Sunday for everybody."

"We feel like we can spark New York," Bradshaw added. "Just what we do, what we've done."

Tomlin, Big Ben comment on the G-Men

October, 31, 2012
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants and Steelers are two of the most storied franchises in the NFL. They are also two of the most successful, having won four of the past seven Super Bowls.

But Steelers coach Mike Tomlin isn't wrapped up in comparing the two organizations.

"I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it, no," Tomlin said Wednesday on a conference call with New York reporters. "I obviously see potentially how one could talk about some of the similarities, but we don't play them that often."

[+] EnlargeEli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger
Larry French/Getty ImagesEli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger during their rookie season of 2004.
It's hard to develop a rivalry when you only play an opponent once every four years. The Giants and Steelers have played just twice since quarterbacks Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger both entered the league in 2004.

On Oct. 26, 2008, the Giants defeated the Steelers 21-14 in Pittsburgh. Manning led the Giants on one of his now-patented game-winning drives in the fourth quarter. Roethlisberger threw four interceptions and was sacked three times by Mathias Kiwanuka.

On Dec. 18, 2004, the Steelers defeated the Giants 33-30 at Giants Stadium. Manning played well in just his fifth NFL start, but Roethlisberger was better, throwing for 316 yards and leading a game-winning drive of his own.

The series returns to the Meadowlands on Sunday afternoon. "We know it's going to be tough, going to New York and playing the Giants at their place," said Roethlisberger, also on a conference call with New York reporters Wednesday.

The Steelers currently stand 4-3 on the season -- in second place in the AFC North, one game behind the Ravens. They've won two games in a row, but are just 1-3 on the road this year.

Tomlin doesn't think playing away from home has been the problem. "I don’t necessarily want to equate it to venue -- I just don't think that we've been consistent in performance," Tomlin said. "Thankfully in recent weeks I think we've been moving in the right direction in that regard, but we'll continue to write that story as we move forward. This is a big challenge in front of us this week."

Pittsburgh is ranked No. 2 in the NFL in total defense (274.1 yards per game), and No. 1 in passing defense (182.6). But Tomlin knows his team has its work cut out for them against the Giants' aerial attack, the sixth-best in the league (282.1).

"I think their play-action pass game is very good. I think Eli throws a very good deep ball, he puts the ball in very playable position. I think their wideouts, the entire group collectively, does a nice job of making plays on balls down the field," said Tomlin. "It's all of em -- it's (Victor) Cruz, it's (Hakeem) Nicks, it's (Domenik) Hixon, and even (Ramses) Barden and others when given an opportunity.

"That's a challenge, because when you're getting yards in chunks, of course that eliminates a lot of execution."

As for the Giants' defense, Roethlisberger sees a challenge ahead, too.

"They've got a crazy amount of turnovers, interceptions. I think that (credit) usually goes to the back end, the guys intercepting it, the DBs and stuff," Roethlisberger said. "But I think you have to give a lot of credit, and we're gonna give a lot of attention to, the front four -- and really the front six or seven that they rotate in and linebackers -- because they're the ones that create a lot of those turnovers with pressure on the quarterback."

Giants versus Steelers. Manning versus Roethlisberger. Rivalry or not, it's must-see TV.