Key takeaways from the Giants' 26-16 loss to the Steelers on Monday Night Football:
John Schmeelk: I'm not sure I have one huge takeaway from the first game, but I do have several small ones:
It took both teams at least a quarter to knock a lot of the rust off from not playing a game since last December. Both teams seemed a little out of sync early, but the quality of play improved as the game went along. None of this was surprising, but still noteworthy.
Daniel Jones looked extremely comfortable in Jason Garrett's offense. On most plays, he was decisive with the football and was getting it out quickly to open receivers. His interception in the red zone is the exact type of play we have talked about this offseason that he needs to eliminate. Otherwise, completing 63 percent of his passes for 279 yards against an excellent Steelers defense is a very impressive performance.
According to Pro Football Focus, Andrew Thomas held Bud Dupree to only three quarterback hurries in the game. It was a very successful rookie debut for him.
Here is a bold prediction or you: Jabrill Peppers will have at least one punt return for a touchdown this season. He looked electric with the ball. He has the speed to run away from the coverage and the strength to break tackles. It is only a matter of time until he takes one to the house.
Dan Salomone: The mark of a good team isn't what you do in Week 1; it's the improvement you make in Week 2. Joe Judge has been a part of the preeminent NFL and college programs of his generation, and those teams did just that. While no fans want to hear about moral victories, they have to be encouraged by how the new-look roster held up against the Steelers, which Judge said "defines continuity in professional sports."
Nineteen players made their Giants debuts last night: Andrew Thomas, Darnay Holmes, Carter Coughlin, Dion Lewis, Levine Toilolo, Cameron Fleming, C.J. Board, Damion Ratley, Blake Martinez, Kyler Fackrell, James Bradberry, Logan Ryan, Adrian Colbert, Isaac Yiadom, Austin Johnson, Nate Ebner, Brandon Williams, Graham Gano, and Casey Kreiter. That's 40 percent of the 48-man limit for game days. This is a work in progress. We will see how far they progress on a quick week going from a Monday night home opener to a road game at noon local time in Chicago.
Lance Medow: The Giants' regular-season opener can be summed up with two words: missed opportunities. And and when they go back and watch the film, it will be easy to play the "could've, would've, should've" game. It didn't take long for the first opportunity to present itself as Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson muffed the punt following the Giants' first possession of the game. After Devante Downs recovered the fumble, Daniel Jones and company immediately received the ball back at the Pittsburgh three-yard line and were knocking on the door of the end zone. Unfortunately, following a Saquon Barkley one-yard run and two incompletions, they couldn't capitalize and had to settle for a Graham Gano 21-yard field goal. When a veteran team like Pittsburgh hands you a gift, you have to find a way to punch it in. Instead, the Giants left four points off the board.
In the second half, on the Giants' very first possession of the third quarter, they put together, by far, their best drive of the game by converting four of their five third downs to ignite a 19-play, 87-yard drive that milked nearly nine minutes. Problem is, they had nothing to show for that lengthy drive as Jones was picked off from the Steelers four-yard line after linebacker Bud Dupree hit him and defensive lineman Cam Heyward intercepted the ball. Were the Giants guaranteed a touchdown there? No, but it's fair to say they could have walked away with at least three points, cutting a six-point deficit to three late in the third quarter. New York had only three possessions in the second half, so that's another big reason why not walking away with any points on this drive was a killer. With very few at-bats in the final two quarters, the Giants didn't have chances to make up for that lost drive.
To make matters worse, three plays later, the Giants had a chance to cancel out the interception in the red zone by recovering a Benny Snell fumble following a 21-yard run. However, after James Bradberry made a heads up play to knock the ball loose, Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster came out of nowhere to dive on the ball and help Pittsburgh continue its drive. The Steelers ultimately padded their lead to nine with a field goal. So, instead of a potential three-point deficit or, perhaps, a one-point lead, the Giants trailed by nine.
Even after all of that, Pittsburgh was still in a giving mood. On the ensuing kickoff, Chris Boswell kicked the ball out of bounds handing the Giants great starting field position at their own 40-yard line. Although this was yet again another attractive opportunity, following a Barkley run that lost a yard and Steelers corner Mike Hilton sacking Jones, the Giants went three-and-out. That's four opportunities that could have served as game-changing moments for New York, but the Steelers, on multiple occasions, were able to steal momentum and find ways to seal the win.
View photos from the Week 1 matchup between the Giants and Steelers on Monday Night Football.