2020 Steelers Season Recall: Pittsburgh kicks off season in empty MetLife Stadium

Steel City Underground presents our 2020 Steelers Recall: a look back at Pittsburgh Steelers games and storylines from last season.

Big city. Bright lights. Monday Night Football.

Those should’ve been the big headlines heading into the Steelers opening game of the 2020 regular season, as they traveled to the largest city, and television market, in the country.

However, MetLife Stadium, which hosts two NFL teams, was empty for this particular primetime contest due to the ongoing precautions surrounding COVID-19. The Pittsburgh Steelers, as an away team, would face the New York Giants in front of no crowd in the stands.

That still didn’t take away from the anticipation of seeing Ben Roethlisberger suit up under center again for the first time since an elbow injury sidelined him in Week 2 of the 2019 season.

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Further excitement awaited the Giants, who would enter the season for the first time since 2004 without QB Eli Manning leading their offense. 2019 first round pick Daniel Jones and first-year head coach Joe Judge would be the Steelers first test out the gate, as the first quarter featured little to get excited over as each team traded field goals between former Pro Bowl kickers Chris Boswell and Graham Gano.

The Gano field goal came after a four-play, one-yard drive by the Giants, who received the ball off of a Diontae Johnson muffed punt at the Pittsburgh three-yard line.

The Steelers looked further sluggish with a bad exchange between Big Ben and James Conner. A longer drive later in the first resulted in the Boswell field goal rather than a touchdown following 13 plays and 59 yards gained.

The Steelers defense had stifled the Giants offense, but Big Blue still found a way to strike. A Joe Haden pass interference call on 3rd-and-12 opened up a Darius Slayton 41-yard touchdown connection from Jones. Down 10-3, the Steelers failed to respond with a three-and-out, but T.J. Watt would strike on the Giants next play, picking off Jones and setting up the Steelers offense on the Giants 36.

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Six plays later Roethlisberger would find JuJu Smith-Schuster for a ten-yard touchdown pass, but Boswell would miss the extra point, leaving the Steelers behind by a point.

Pittsburgh’s defense continued to harass the Giants offense, which was unable to move the ball against the Black and Gold.

After the two-minute warning, the sleeping bear that was the Steelers offense went into no huddle mode and moved the ball with ease, as Big Ben eventually found James Washington for a touchdown following eight plays and 78 yards gained.

The Steelers entered halftime up 16-10 and would never look back, but the Giants still threatened with an 8:50 minute drive that encompassed 19 plays and 87 yards, only to see DE Cameron Heyward land an interception near the goal line.

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The Giants would only see the ball two more times the entire game, both in the fourth quarter. One of those drives ended with some garbage time points as the Steelers put up ten more themselves with another Boswell field goal and a Roethlisberger to JuJu TD.

The Steelers would start their season 1-0 with an impressive defensive effort that saw Giants RB Saquon Barkley rush 15 times for a grand total of 6 yards.

Pittsburgh wins, 26-16.

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