A pair of young Steelers shine in low-scoring win over Dallas Cowboys
By Tommy Jaggi
The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys in a low-scoring affair during the Hall of Fame Game, but these two players stood above the rest.
The outcome of the first preseason game should be taken with a grain of salt. The Pittsburgh Steelers may have trounced the Dallas Cowboys, but what’s far more important is how some of their young players stepped up to the plate.
There were a few names who were a little disappointing. Mason Rudolph couldn’t lead the Steelers to more than a field goal, but Dwayne Haskins was even worse – averaging just 4.2 yards per attempt and earning a 70.7 passer rating, according to ESPN.
In addition, Najee Harris showed some power but struggled to find much breathing room on the ground as he was typically swarmed by Cowboys defenders during his first NFL action. As a result, the first-round running back saw just 22 yards on 7 carries (3.1 yards per attempt).
The offensive line was arguably the biggest concern entering the game. It’s hard to read too much into this performance as the team is still missing players like Kevin Dotson, Zach Banner, and Chukwuma Okorafor, they paved the way for just 2.5 yards per carry on the ground as a team (though they did offer some nice pockets in pass protection).
Fortunately, there were several players who really showed up to play. However, two, in particular, were especially impressive during the win over the Cowboys.
Steelers two most impressive players of the game
Alex Highsmith and James Pierre really caught my eye during the Hall of Fame game. Highsmith played just a few defensive series before being pulled from the game, but what we saw was thoroughly impressive.
The former college-walk on and 2020 third-round pick by the Steelers continued where he left off from his terrific reports in training camp – earning 1.0 sack and a pair of pressures against the Cowboys in limited action.
The sack was very impressive, as Highsmith quickly and easily beat the left tackle on a silky-smooth inside spin. With a few go-to moves already at his disposal, Highsmith is going to be hard to block this year.
If I could give two game balls away in this contest, James Pierre would get my second. I continually found my eyes following Pierre along the field, as he displayed some sticky coverage operating as a starting outside cornerback for the Steelers in this contest with Joe Haden sitting out.
Though Pierre did give up one decent gain on a nicely thrown ball on a post route, he was able to break up two passes and was incredibly efficient overall. Meanwhile, Justin Layne had a few solid plays in coverage but was much less consistent from play to play.
Some other names worth mentioning include Pressley Harvin III, Antoine Brooks, Buddy Johnson, Mark Gilbert, and Josh Dobbs. Harvin had a few terrific punts – including one that dropped perfectly at the one-yard line. Brooks, Johnson, and Gilbert were some of the other bright spots on the defense in this contest, while Dobbs led a touchdown drive that was capped off with an impressive throw with pressure in his face.
There will be plenty of film to go back and review, but my initial analysis is that Alex Highsmith and James Pierre were the players of the game for the Pittsburgh Steelers in their win over the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game.