Ben Roethlisberger on Monday threw three touchdown passes in his first game in a year as the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the New York Giants 26-16 in the NFL season opener for both teams.
Roethlisberger, who played in just two games last year before needing season-ending elbow surgery, completed 21 of 32 passes for 229 yards in the empty Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
“I am just so excited, I am just thankful. I told the guys in the locker room before the game that I’m back because of them,” Roethlisberger said.
“I don’t need to accomplish anything personally any more. It’s about being with a defense that I think is as good as any I have ever played with, skill guys that are young and fun to play with and then, of course my line, who I love to death and they love me,” he said.
“They are the reason I came back to play,” Roethlisberger added.
The Steelers need Roethlisberger to return to his 2018 form if they are to make the playoffs in the American Football Conference.
Roethlisberger threw touchdown passes to JuJu Smith-Schuster (10 yards) and James Washington (13) in the second quarter to give the Steelers a 16-10 halftime lead. The scoring toss to Washington came with seven seconds left after the Steelers traveled 78 yards on eight plays.
“Us being out there right before half having two minutes to go down out points on the board it was like: ‘OK that is the Ben we know,’” Smith-Schuster said.
“Being able to go down and have those points on the board [on that] drive — that is what we do,” he said.
Smith-Schuster caught two touchdown passes, while Benny Snell rushed for a career-high 113 yards on 19 carries for the Steelers, who finished 8-8 last season.
Quarterback Daniel Jones was 26-for-41 for 279 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Giants, who played their first game under 38-year-old rookie head coach Joe Judge.
The Steelers defense smothered Giants running back Saquon Barkley, who finished with just six yards on 15 carries, but did have six receptions for 60 yards.
“I have to be better. I have to be better for the team. We have to get the running game going,” Barkley said.
Darius Slayton caught six passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns for the Giants.
In Monday’s other game, it was:
‧ Titans 16, Broncos 14
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