STEELERS 31, JETS 13
Steelers' record: 4-1
One year ago: 3-2
Series record (including playoffs): Steelers lead, 20-5
The Steelers' story in the days leading up to this game against the Jets had to do with medical issues, because by the time the Friday before the game rolled around and teams have to submit a status report to the NFL office they listed nine players as out with various injuries, and a Sunday inactive list only needs to contain seven names.
Chief among the areas of concern was the offensive line, which would have Chris Hubbard starting at right tackle because of injuries to both Marcus Gilbert and Ryan Harris. And because both Gilbert and Harris were unable to play – Harris, in fact would end up being placed on injured reserve the day before the game – Hubbard's backup would be Maurkice Pouncey, typically an All-Pro center. Also shelved were Ryan Shazier, Robert Golden, Cody Wallace and slot receiver Eli Rogers.
"I think we sell these professionals short when we assume that because they're a backup they're incapable," said Coach Mike Tomlin after Friday's practice. "Often times all the guy needs is an opportunity, and we've all seen many stories associated with that."
HOW THE STORYLINE PLAYED OUT**
"I think the most talented guy (on the Jets defense) is Sheldon Richardson," said Tomlin, "a former first-rounder out of Missouri. He's an oversized linebacker, if you will. He's a 300-pound defensive lineman who moves and controls his body like a linebacker. He's a freaky type of a guy."
Most often, Richardson lined up over Hubbard, and based on the in-game statistics, Richardson finished with two tackles and a fumble recovery that came on a play where Ben Roethlisberger was sacked after holding onto the ball because he was expecting a receiver to be somewhere and he wasn't. That was the only time Roethlisberger was sacked, and he generally had as much time as he needed to survey the field along the way to completing 72.3 percent of his passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns.
"(A) challenging week for us dealing with some of the personnel things," said Tomlin after the victory. "I thought the guys did a really good job of adjusting and working the plan and letting the standard be the standard. Have to recognize guys like (Chris) Hubbard who stepped up and played starting right tackle for us and did an excellent job. (Jordan) Dangerfield at safety again, played quite a bit, but there are a lot of guys to acknowledge. It was a total team effort.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT I
When asked which statistic – with the exception of the final score and turnover ratio – would be the one most likely to point to the game's outcome, Tomlin had said on Friday, "It'll be third-down conversions. The Jets turn the ball over a bunch, but they have converted 48 percent of their third downs, and that number cannot be in that region. We have to be good on third downs – we have to convert ours, and we have to stop them from converting theirs. If we do those things, the turnover tally will be less significant. If they're converting 48 percent of their third downs, then we better get some turnovers."
Game action from Week 5 against the New York Jets.
The Steelers got no turnovers, and in fact finished the game minus-1 in turnover ratio, but they converted 50 percent of their third downs and limited the Jets to 2-for-11 (18 percent) on third downs.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT II
Le'Veon Bell caught nine passes for 88 yards. Five of those nine netted the offense first downs.
With 2:11 remaining in the first half, a 15-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Brandon Marshall gave the Jets a 13-7 lead and had the crowd at Heinz Field starting to feel as though the Steelers had allowed the Jets to hang around too long and were about to start suffering the consequences. But the Steelers responded with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that ate up only 85 seconds and ended with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jesse James that restored the Steelers' lead for good.
"We always have that mentality offensively," said Tomlin about answering the Jets' score with one of their own before the end of the half. "It's important that we support our defense when we give up a score. That's always their mentality and vice versa. I think it's our defense's mentality in support of our offense. But, it was critical."
IT WAS OVER WHEN
The Steelers' lead was 24-13 when they got the ball with 7:29 left in the fourth quarter. Roethlisberger completed 6-of-7 for 56 yards and a 5-yard touchdown to Sammie Coates, and Le'Veon Bell rushed five times for 15 yards and caught a pass for 16 more. When the Jets finally got the ball back with 1:46 remaining in the game, the Steelers' lead was 31-13.
"We were all on," said Roethlisberger. "We got the ball with seven-something left on the clock on that last drive. I told the guys coming into the huddle, 'This is ours to milk. Let's take it down the field. Let's use up clock and let's score on top of it.' We used almost six minutes, and we scored. That's a great feeling for everybody. When we're all clicking, it's a fun feeling."
TOMLIN'S INJURY UPDATE
"We got the job done today, but we absorbed some damage along the way. Cameron Heyward's got a hamstring (injury). Ryan Shazier has a wrist (injury). Robert Golden has a groin (injury). Sammie Coates has (an injury to his) hand or a finger. And other bumps and bruises associated with it. We'll get the totality of this at the start of the week tomorrow and make whatever necessary adjustments we have to make, and move forward."