Incredible finish in Pittsburgh
The New York Jets came into Pittsburgh floundering. Well, as much as a 9-4 team could possibly be floundering. After a blowout loss to rival New England and an ugly loss to division foe, Miami, the Jets put themselves in a tough position entering the game against the Steelers. The offense hadn’t scored a TD in two games and nearly the entire team was under fire, especially Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan.
The only saving grace for the Jets was the absence of All-World safety, Troy Polamalu which is the true catalyst to the amazing Steeler defense. His absence truly makes them a different, and weaker team. The Jets got off to a hot start as Brad Smith returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and they were actually able to run the ball fairly well against the vaunted Steeler defense. The Jets were able to run for over 100 yards and LT and Shonn Greene combined for 89 yards. Not great, but effective enough to keep the Steelers honest and control the clock a little bit.
Braylon Edwards added 8 catches for 100 yards and had an incredible catch over the middle of the field where left his feet for a ball and got popped by hard hitting safety Ryan Clark. Clark was flagged on the play for launching at Edwards’ head.
Sanchez wasn’t lighting it up by any means, but he did have a solid game passing for 170 yards on 19/29 attempts. He added a running TD on a great naked bootleg where he was literally untouched going into the endzone.
The game was tight throughout and the Steelers had some good performances as well. Rashard Mendenhall added 100 yards on 17 carries with 1 TD and Ben Roethlisberger threw for 264 yards with 1 TD.
Late in the game the Steelers had the ball deep in their own territory, trailing the Jets 17-20. The Steelers ran a play from shotgun and as Roethlisberger handed the ball off, the great Jason Taylor made an incredible play shooting the gap for a safety. This would prove to be the critical play in the game in my opinion as it extended the lead to 5 points which obviously forced the Steelers to score a TD as opposed to a FG.
The Steelers got the ball back with under 2 minutes left and Big Ben had them driving. With only 1 timeout, the Steelers were right around midfield and seemed to be dead to rights after Big Ben was stripped by a blitzing Jets defender. Roethlisberger recovered but lost a lot of yardage which set up a 3rd and nearly 20. On the next play, Roethlisberger hit the speedy Mike Wallace for a great catch and handful of yards after the catch to pick up a first down.
The Steelers got down inside the redzone with a 1st & 10 at the 10 yard line. They were forced to clock the ball setting up a 2nd down with 9 seconds left. Big Ben held the ball for far too long in my opinion, waiting for a WR to get open and threw an incomplete pass in the back of the endzone in the vicinity of two Steelers receivers and several Jets defenders. On 3rd down, the Steelers only had 2 seconds left and obviously one more play. It was an incomplete pass ending the game and the Jets escaped with a much needed victory.
Like I said, the safety by Jason Taylor proved to be critical as the Steelers would have been otherwise able to tie up the game and force overtime. It was an incredible game from start to finish and the Jets went from reeling to beating one of the best teams in the NFL and improving to 10-4. For now, the crisis in New York is averted.