Pittsburgh Steelers

3 takeaways from Steelers in first preseason game

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 11: Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt (90) sacks New York Giants quarterback Josh Johnson (8) during the Preseason National Football League game between the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 11, 2017, at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

The Pittsburgh Steelers took advantage of sloppy play by the New York Giants to win their preseason opener, 20-12, on Friday night at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

The Steelers forced the Giants into a pair of turnovers — a fumble and an interception — that  both led to scores. They also had six sacks.

Here are three takeaways:

T.J. Watt is for real

This year’s first-round draft pick from Wisconsin has made a strong impression in his first NFL training camp, and followed that up with two sacks in his preseason debut, recording one in each of the first two series.

The outside linebacker was also in on five tackles, three solos. The brother of Houston Texans superstar defense end J.J. Watt certainly did not look like a 22-year-old with just two full seasons of college experience.

“I think just getting out there in general, having a play on (special) teams and then having the sack as I did, it calmed the nerves a little bit,” said Watt, who had five tackles, two sacks and three quarterback hits.

“At the same time, I felt like I belong here. I came into this game with a certain amount of confidence because of the work I put in.”

The Steelers entered training camp hoping that Watt would show he is capable of spelling 39-year-old James Harrison from time to time. With the way he played on Friday, Watt looks capable of beating out Harrison for the starting job on the left side.

Dobbs is developing

The Steelers drafted Josh Dobbs in the fourth round from Tennessee with the idea that he would help in the future rather than this season, referring to him as a “developmental quarterback.”

However, the future came early for Dobbs when the Steelers held starter Ben Roethlisberger out of Friday’s game while backup Landry Jones was sidelined by a strained oblique muscle. Dobbs had both good and bad moments, but showed that there is still a lot of development left before he is ready to play in the regular season.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Joshua Dobbs (5) rolls out of the pocket to pass against the New York Giants during the first quarter of an NFL football game, Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Dobbs completed 8 of 15 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown while being intercepted twice.

Both picks came early in the game and led to Giants field goals. However, Dobbs bounced back to throw a 44-yard pass to wide receiver Cobi Hamilton to set up a field goal, then connected again later with Hamilton for a 28-yard touchdown.

“Of course, there were some throws you want back and some plays that were good,” Dobbs said. “I was able to respond from a little adversity at the beginning of the game, but this is a good start and I’ll be able to build off this.”

Moats makes his case

Though Arthur Moats has been a steady contributor in his three seasons with the Steelers after beginning his career with a four-year run with the Buffalo Bills from 2010-13, the 29-year-old is not a lock to make the season-opening roster.

The Steeles have plenty of depth at outside linebacker with Harrison, Watt and Bud Dupree, the starter on the right side, as well as Anthony Chickillo. Moats figures to get a challenge from Keion Adams, the seventh-round draft pick from Western Michigan.

However, Moats made a good impression on Friday, as he had an interception to set up a field goal as well as three sacks, three quarterback hits and six tackles. He joked afterward that he hadn’t had a game that good since playing Madden, but it was an eye-opening performance following a 2016 season in which he had a total of 3.5 sacks and 19 tackles.

“Any time you are keeping score you want to win,” Moats said. “Even though it’s the preseason and some teams may not take it as serious, any time we are out there and representing the Steelers organization we want to put our best foot forward, and we did that.”


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