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The Giants defense came out as strong as anyone could have expected against the to begin the season on Monday. They forced a three-and-out on the first drive of the game, including a quarterback pressure on Ben Roethlisberger’s first pass attempt of the game, leading to a failed lateral and a fumble, which Pittsburgh eventually recovered.
They maintained that pressure in the pocket throughout the first half, but appeared to run out of gas as the Steelers pulled away after halftime, outscoring Big Blue 10-0 in the fourth quarter before a late Giants’ touchdown with less than two minutes to play.
“When you play the Steelers, they're going to make plays,” head coach Joe Judge said. “They have a bunch of talented guys. They're a good team for a reason. You've just got to stay disciplined and commit to the process.”
“I think we came out with a great mindset, ready to play ball,” linebacker Lorenzo Carter said. “It's been a minute since we had an opportunity to go out there and play somebody else. We know we have to keep getting better. It's game one. We've got to get in the lab, watch film and see where we need to improve. But we definitely put it out there that we've got something that we can build on.”
Carter had seven tackles, but newcomer and fellow linebacker Blake Martinez led the Giants’ defense with 12, and was happy with his ability to adjust to a new scheme.
“First game with a new team, a new defense and everything,” Martinez said. “I felt confident out there. I knew what I was doing. I was able to play fast, be aggressive and go and make plays at the line of scrimmage.”
Both Carter and Martinez praised the defensive line, specifically Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams, who led an effective Giants’ pass rush most of the night with one sack apiece.
“They're both amazing players,” Martinez said They went out there and did their jobs and make big plays. Each and every one of us has been working hard on defense and it's cool to see guys go out there and do what they can do.”
“You've got to love those big guys up front,” Carter said. “We've got a crazy defensive line. They make their plays. We've just got to step up and have everybody keep making plays. We need to feed off of each other. The more plays they make the more plays we make.”