EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. _ Scenarios remain in place for the Steelers to make the playoffs, but wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster wasn't interested in contemplating the possibilities in the immediate aftermath of Jets 16, Steelers 10.
"Man, all I can think about is not making that play on the last drive," Smith-Schuster lamented at MetLife Stadium late Sunday afternoon. "I make that catch, I go in the end zone, we score, that's it.
"At the end of the day the game's on me. It's my fault, sorry, everybody."
Smith-Schuster was referencing the ball he didn't come down with on fourth-and-7 from the Jets' 44-yard line with 44 second left in the fourth quarter.
Wide receiver James Washington had a similar opportunity on the previous snap and got two hands on quarterback Devlin "Duck" Hodges' pass in the end zone before safety Marcus Maye's left hand pried the ball from Washington's grasp.
"I kinda let the team down a little bit right there at the end," Washington said. "I had my hands on it, just kinda a dogfight there. But I gotta make plays, help the team out."
Hodges was throwing at the end because quarterback Mason Rudolph had been knocked from the game with a shoulder injury.
Rudolph had replaced Hodges in the second quarter with the Steelers trailing, 10-0, following Hodges' second interception.
"I don't think it's a question that I can't get it done," Hodges said. "The past two weeks I just haven't been playing great. I don't think I'm a bad player but I've been playing bad, so just gotta get better."
Even the defense was offering up mea culpas.
It was that kind of Sunday in the swamps of Jersey.
"We gave up a touchdown early," defensive tackle Cam Heyward acknowledged. "We were just playing catch-up throughout the entire first half. I know the offense got us the tie at half but just gotta surrender less, simple as that.
"As a defense you gotta think you gotta hold 'em off the scoreboard. I know they have NFL players over there, but I believe in the guys I got."
MORE OF THE SAME: Rudolph (shoulder), running back James Conner (thigh) and center Maurkice Pouncey (knee) were unable to finish.
But Heyward, as he has all season, refused to cite injuries as an excuse for the result.
"That's why there are 53 men on the roster," he said. "You would think we are more emboldened to deal with stuff like that because guys went down throughout the year and it's not like guys aren't ready for those moments.
"Whatever it takes, man. I'm not going to make any excuse. We didn't get the job done."
PROVIDING WHAT WAS REQUIRED: Rudolph completed 14 of 20 passes for 129 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown to wide receiver Diontae Johnson that tied the game at 10-10 with four seconds left in the second quarter.
It was Rudolph's first action since he had been pulled for Hodges in the third quarter on Nov. 24 at Cincinnati.
"He came in and he tried to give us a chance," Washington said. "That's what you would want from any quarterback."
Outside linebacker T.J. Watt came up with a sack, strip and fumble recovery late in the second quarter that got the ball back for the Steelers after a Chris Boswell field goal had cut the Jets' lead to 10-3 with 1:18 left in the first half.
Rudolph hit Johnson for the game-tying touchdown four snaps later.
"I'm trying to create a splash play on every single play," Watt said. "If you don't have that mentality as a defender, then why are you even playing the game? I try to make an impact for my team every time I'm out on the field. So hell, yeah, I was trying to make a splash play, I do every play."
ON TO BALTIMORE: Watt turned the page quickly after perhaps the Steelers' most disheartening loss of the season.
"We gotta put our whole energy into winning this football game," he said of this Sunday's regular-season finale at the Ravens. "I love all those guys in the locker room, I see them work. I see everything behind the scenes that a lot of people don't have the luxury of seeing. "Everybody's working their tails off to win football games, I can promise you that, so we're gonna get back in the lab. I trust every guy in that locker room and we're gonna perform."