National Football League

Steel Trap

September 15

The Pittsburgh Steelers had a simple plan, in theory, heading into Monday night's game against the New York Giants: don't let Saquon Barkley win.

And boy were they successful.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin laid it all on the table after Pittsburgh's 26-16 victory, saying stopping Barkley was his team's top priority. 

After holding the Giants running back to just 6 rushing yards on 15 attempts in the win at MetLife Stadium, it's fair to say that plan worked to perfection.

In fact, the Steelers lured the 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year into a trap so successful that Barkley's numbers on the ground were historically low.

How'd they get it done? NFL analyst Marcus Spears broke it down on Get Up Tuesday morning:

"It's old-school defense, man. They are so physical at the point of attack. They create negative plays. It does not matter who you have offensively, they're going to take it away."

In total, the Steelers allowed 29 total rushing yards, by far the fewest in the NFL in Week 1.

Beyond keeping Barkley at bay, the Steelers ⁠— star linebacker T.J. Watt, in particular ⁠— also gave second-year Giants quarterback Daniel Jones fits.

Pittsburgh's defense ended the night with 2 interceptions and sacked Jones 3 times, who finished with a 79.2 quarterback rating.

In the end, it was an all-around dominant defensive performance, with a Giants touchdown in the waning minutes making for a more palatable final score from a New York perspective.

To Barkley's credit, he put the onus on himself to do more for the Giants going forward.

As for the Steelers, where do they go from here?

After missing most of last season with an injury, the answer there would appear to be as far as Ben Roethlisberger can take them.

For Nick Wright, that's potentially in the realm of the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens in the AFC. 

Big Ben finished Monday's game 21-for-32 for 229 yards and 3 touchdowns, finding eight different pass-catchers in the process.

And to bring it full circle, the 38-year-old Roethlisberger even scraped out a few rushing yards – three more than Barkley, to be exact.


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