EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — With a chance for an increased role in the Giants’ running game, Rashad Jennings made a strong first impression on Aug. 9.
Jennings ran 73 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and Curtis Painter’s scoring pass with 2:50 left gave the Giants a 20-16 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in a preseason game.
“It feels good to get out there and jell with the offense,” Jennings said. “Find a big hole like that and make a big play.”
Howard Jones had given the Steelers a 16-13 lead when he picked up backup quarterback Ryan Nassib’s fumble and went 28 yards for a touchdown with 10:16 to go. But Painter led a 12-play, 80-yard drive and threw a 3-yard TD pass to Corey Washington for the victory.
Eli Manning played four series and was 0-for-2 for the Giants. Manning said the offense under new coordinator Ben McAdoo is a work in progress.
“I thought the running game was good,” Manning said. “Whenever you have a running back break a long one, that’s a great thing to have to be able to hit that big play. I feel confident in the offense, feel confident in our ability.”
The Giants opened the preseason last week with a 17-13 victory over Buffalo in the Hall of Fame game.
The Giants focused on their running game after a week in which David Wilson was forced to retire because of a neck injury. Peyton Hillis missed the game because of an ankle injury.
Jennings, who signed a four-year, $10 million deal with the Giants in March, finished with 85 yards to lead the team.
Ben Roethlisberger played only one series for the Steelers (0-1). He was 1-for-2, with the completion a 46-yarder to rookie third-round pick Dri Archer to the Giants 14. Running back Le’Veon Bell started the drive with gains of 9 and 8 yards.
The seven-play, 70-yard drive ended with the first of Shaun Suisham’s three field goals, a 26-yarder for a 3-0 lead.
“I thought it was a good, solid first series,” Roethlisberger said. “Obviously, it helped that we had a huge play to Dri. But we moved the ball down the field and got points on the board.”
Jennings’ long touchdown run came on the next play from scrimmage. “It was a well-executed play,” Jennings said. “Eli made sure we were in the right play, it was a hat on a hat, a gaping hole in the offensive line.”
“One-on-one battles in the open field, you’ve got to win those. It’s what I did and the rest was just a race.”
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was disappointed with his team’s defense on that score.
“We gave up a long run and that can’t happen,” he said. “You’re going to have guys break out and get 8 or get 12 yards, but not 78. It was an integrity issue. When those things happen, you have to be able to minimize the explosion.”
Early in the second quarter, the Giants took advantage of a 21-yard punt by Brad Wing and started their drive at the Steelers 35. Josh Brown made a 45-yard field goal for a 10-3 lead.
Bruce Gradkowski took over for Roethlisberger and was 8 for 12 for 66 yards.
Nassib replaced Manning in the second quarter. On his second drive, he completed his first five passes, including a 12-yarder to Rueben Randle. Brandon McManus’ 46-yard field goal with 38 seconds left in the first half gave the Giants a 13-3 lead.
Charles James fumbled a punt with 7:37 left in the third and Jones recovered at the Giants 21. The Giants’ defense held and Suisham made a 38-yard field goal to make it 13-6.
Suisham added a 32-yarder 59 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it 13-9.
(SIMMI BUTTAR, AP Sports Writer)