STEELERS 27, JETS 10
Steelers' record: 1-1
One year ago: 1-1
Series record (including playoffs): Steelers lead, 18-4
Even in the very earliest stages of an NFL season, there will be matchups where the outcome is more important to one team than it is to the other. Sure, everybody on both teams wants to win the game, but situations can arise where it means more to one of them. That was how this game set up for the Steelers and the Jets. Only 13 percent of teams that begin the season 0-2 make the playoffs, and with the Steelers at 0-1 and playing at home, this was cast as a game they had to win.
According to Jets Coach Rex Ryan, the turning point would be the third-and-16 play from the Jets 37-yard line early in the third quarter where Ben Roethlisberger first escaped the pass rush and then threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace, who made a very nice play to get inside cornerback Antonio Cromartie to make the catch and then get both feet down inbounds. The touchdown upped the Steelers lead to 20-10.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT
The New York Jets had 10 offensive possessions in the game. They scored a touchdown on their first and a field goal on their second. On their other eight, they punted six times and had the clock run out on them at the end of each half. And in the second half, their offense crossed midfield only once.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
* The Steelers caught a break on the Jets second offensive possession. On a first down from the Pittsburgh 24-yard line, Mark Sanchez used a play-action rollout to get outside the pocket, and he had Santonio Holmes open in the end zone. Sanchez missed Holmes, and the Jets settled for a 38-yard field goal from Nick Folk and a 10-6 lead early in the second quarter.
- On two different third down situations in the first half, the Steelers removed their outside linebackers and went with a 4-2-5 alignment in which the front consisted of Cameron Heyward, Casey Hampton, Ziggy Hood and Brett Keisel. On the first third down situation of the second half, the Steelers went back to their more conventional alignment and LaMarr Woodley beat RT Austin Howard to sack Mark Sanchez and force a Jets punt.
- It was a third-and-16 from the Jets 37-yard line early in the third quarter when Ben Roethlisberger took his first shot deep down the field. He went for Mike Wallace who was running down the right sideline with Antonio Cromartie in tight coverage. The ball was just a tad underthrown, but it allowed Wallace to cut inside Cromartie and make the catch along the sideline for the touchdown.
- On the punt that followed a successful challenge of the spot of the ball by Jets coach Rex Ryan, New York returner Jeremy Kerley had Drew Butler's punt bounce off his helmet and Ryan Mundy recovered the fumble.
- It was a third-and-3 at the Jets 23-yard line midway through the fourth quarter. The formation had Heath Miller split wide to the right where he was covered by safety Yeremiah Bell. Just before the snap, Ben Roethlisberger gave a little signal to Miller, and then he threw him a back-shoulder pass that was complete for a 10-yard gain. The drive ended with Isaac Redman's touchdown run that gave the Steelers a 27-10 lead with 3:34 remaining in the game.
WHAT WENT WRONG
* Once again, the Steelers defense allowed a score on the possession immediately following a score by their offense. After Shaun Suisham kicked a 45-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead, the Jets responded with a 90-yard touchdown drive on which QB Mark Sanchez completed 4-of-5 for 80 yards, including the 14-yard touchdown to Santonio Holmes, and he also saved a sack with the accompanying loss of yardage by spinning away from a Keenan Lewis tackle.
- Coach Mike Tomlin says often that defending the wildcat demands the defense to follow the rules that are in place for dealing with that. The Jets didn't use Tim Tebow at quarterback until the second half, and on each of his first two snaps he ran the read-option. On the first of those two plays, Tebow kept the ball and ran for 22 yards; on the next play he handed to Joe McKnight who ran for 12 more.
- After a 32-yard punt by the Jets gave the Steelers the ball at the Pittsburgh 49-yard line, Marcus Gilbert was flagged for holding on first down, which made it first-and-20. On second down, Ben Roethlisberger spun out of a sack by David Harris and threw the ball out of bounds, but he was flagged for intentional grounding, which made it second-and-30. On third down, Roethlisberger completed a quick sideline throw to Antonio Brown that lost 2 yards, which made it third-and-32. The Steelers ended up punting, and then Will Allen was flagged for holding before the kick, which gave the Jets possession at their own 20-yard line.
A STRONG CASE FOR LIKING IKE
Within the New York Jets media release this week was an item that cited statistics from StatsPass to rank the most efficient cornerbacks during the last two NFL seasons.
Burn percentage tracks how a defensive player performs in defending passes in which he is targeted. A burn occurs when a targeted defensive player allows a completed pass.
According to StatsPass, the NFL's most efficient cornerback in 2011 was Ike Taylor, who led the league with a 37.5 burn percentage, a figure determined by him being targeted 104 times and allowing 39 completions. Darrelle Revis was second at 40.4 percent, and then it was Cleveland's Sheldon Brown at 40.7 percent, the Jets' Antonio Cromartie at 41.6 percent, and Seattle's Richard Sherman at 42 percent.