Inside Analysis: Giants' Preseason Opener

The Giants Beat breaks down the good, the bad, and the ugly from the New York Giants preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Good:

The long 57-yard touchdown connection from Eli Manning to Victor Cruz was the play made for headlines, but don't let the performance of rookie Damontre Moore slip under the table. The third round draft pick has impressed Tom Coughlin and the rest of coaching staff during training camp.

Moore continued his stellar play with a strong game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday night. The play that stood out the most came after the Giants defense made a quick stop during the Steelers first possession of the game. Moore exploded past the offensive lineman and blocked punter Drew Butler. Louis Murphy returned the ball to the Steelers five yard-line and Josh Brown eventually kicked a 23 yard field goal after the G-men failed to punch the ball into the end zone. This hustle play may not stick out in the box score, but it gave the Giants early momentum and most importantly, a lead.

The Bad:

The Giants are expected to have one of the top passing attacks in the NFL this season. With Eli Manning at quarterback and names like Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and Reuben Randle at wide receiver, you can't go wrong. Big Blue needs to find a starting running back to compliment their deep threat. The Giants showed they have weaknesses on the offensive line and need to fine-tune some slip-ups during the Steelers game. The line did not give David Wilson too many holes to run through, the young running back finished with just 16 yards on five carries. Wilson is expected to have a breakout year and the Giants' coaches are drooling at the mouth over his quickness and athletic ability.

Luckily, the Giants saw improvement when Andre Brown entered the game, he rushed for 23 yards on four carries. The Giants made it a point to improve the offensive line during April's draft when they selected offensive tackle Justin Pugh in the first round. If David Diehl begins to show his age, Pugh should see playing time during the regular season.

The Ugly:

One of the main scares heading into training camp was the state of the front seven. The defensive line of the Giants has been one of the top lines in all of football in recent memory, maybe even the best. With Jason Pierre-Paul returning from back surgery and Justin Tuck beginning to show his age, the Giants will look at unfamiliar faces to contribute on defense.

Big Blue signed Cullen Jenkins and drafted Damontre Moore during the offseason and both have already shown they can hold the fort down if Pierre-Paul and Tuck miss extended time. Mathias Kiwanuka also made the switch back to defensive end after playing linebacker the past few seasons. The linebacker position has its questions too. Big Blue brought in several free agents during the offseason to compete with the group of linebackers they already had. While the Giants front seven did proved the critics wrong on Saturday, proving that defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell is till looking to get the most out of this unit.

The Steeler ground game put on a show early on. Steelers running back LaRod Stephens-Howling quickly gained 40 yards on seven carries behind an offensive line that had its way with the Giants defense. The front seven will have to improve in their next game against the Indianapolis Colts because the often criticized secondary looked like they are ready to put 2012 in the rearview mirror. The Colts do not have a strong rushing attack, which gives the Giants a chance to improve on their mistakes during the next game.


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