Steelers defense delivers the pain

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Taken at face value, the devastating hit Steelers safety Troy Polamalu unleashed upon Jets wide receiver Stephen Hill late in the second quarter failed to achieve its objective.

Hill held onto the ball, the Jets picked up a first down that set up a field goal with just two seconds left until halftime, and Polamalu, admittedly, was "trying not to take a knee" in the immediate aftermath of the collision.

But when viewed in the broader context of how the Steelers played defense on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium, Polamalu's effort and intensity at that particular moment helped personify what it was the Steelers were trying to accomplish.

"Once we start hitting as a defense, that's when the tips and turnovers come in," cornerback Ike Taylor observed following the Steelers' 19-6 decision over the Jets.

"It's hard to hold a team under 200 yards passing. It's hard to hold a team under 80 yards rushing. As long as we're running and hitting, everything else will pretty much fall into line."

Taylor made that observation unaware that the Steelers had held the Jets to 184 net yards passing and to 83 net yards rushing, but fully cognizant of the two interceptions (the first two turnovers of the season for the defense) and three sacks registered against Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith.

All of that running and hitting, apparently, had a cumulative effect on the Steelers and on the Jets.

There was Polamalu's assault on Hill.

There was inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons making six tackles, adding a pair of passes defensed and contributing the second of those two long-awaited interceptions.

There were defensive ends Cam Heyward and Ziggy Hood relentlessly pressuring throughout a second half where the Steelers played minus Brett Keisel (ribs), a second half during which the Jets never scored.

"I even stuck my head in there a few times on the running backs," Taylor said. "I caught a quick headache and the headache left that fast."

The Steelers' defense posted season-low totals in rushing yards allowed (New York's 83 marked the first time an opponent had been held under 100), third-down conversions (three), percent of third downs converted (27) and points allowed (six).

Keisel credited a "nice sense of urgency" and the opportunity to play with a lead for an extended period.

Polamalu thought the diversity of the Jets' attack invited counter-attacks.

"When they open up the offense it kind of allows us to open up on defense," he said. "And what I mean by that, the more they spread us out, the more we can get into our sub-packages and do what we need to do, create pressures, create looks (and) create confusion."

Taylor thought what the Steelers did to the Jets started with Timmons and permeated throughout the defense.

"I've been telling Lawrence Timmons, 'Every time I see you hit, then something bad happens for them and good for us,'" Taylor said. "And he's slowly getting back into it.

"When you play for Pittsburgh, especially the defense, you have to play outside your body. You have to do things and sacrifice things you don't normally do. And that's coming up and hitting. You do it for the other 10 guys on the field.

"The 11 guys on the field, man, we play for each other."

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