East Rutherford, NJ – Lou Holtz once said, “You’re never as good as everyone tells you when you win, and you’re never as bad as they say when you lose.” That couldn’t be any more fitting coming off the high of the Monday night win in Atlanta, to today’s 19-6 stinker to the now 1-4 Steelers. The Jets sit at 3-3, having yet to lose or win consecutive games. But this roller coaster ride shouldn’t be unexpected with rookie quarterback Geno Smith under center to start the season.
Smith had arguably his best performance on Monday, but in case you haven’t heard, Dick Lebeau is 15-2 against rookie quarterbacks as the defensive coordinator of the Steelers. Oh, and he had a bye week to prepare. Today that defense held Geno Smith and the Jets to six points, getting two interceptions (their first two of the season), and three sacks (they had four in the previous four games).
“I don’t know if I’m more excited getting an interception because it helped us win the game, or so you guys can stop asking about it,” said Steelers safety Ryan Clark.
Clark’s interception came on Geno’s worst play of the game, an interception he threw into triple coverage. But it was a play Geno was duped into.
“William Gay realized that when they are in a certain formation, they always ran vertical routes,” explained Clark. “He was screaming out ‘Verticals’ and he did a good job making his man go around him. I played Cumberland to force Smith to go outside and he floated the ball enough so that I had an opportunity to catch it.”
This loss can’t squarely be put on Smith’s shoulders. The Jets were in this game until Antonio Cromartie let Emmanuel Sanders past him for a 55-yard score on third down. That one play accounted for more points than the Jets mustered the entire game. Instead of a close 9-6 affair, the game became an uphill battle with the Jets down 16-6.
“Our job is to keep them out of the end zone and we didn’t,” said Cromartie. “They scored on a third and one. It’s something we can’t have, especially for me.”
Overall the Jets defense was solid. They had another stout performance against the run, only giving up 2.8 yards per carry. They collected four sacks, a number that could’ve been more if it wasn’t for the numerable holding penalties the Steelers committed. But in the end the defense couldn’t take advantage of the long down and distances Pittsburgh was forced into from those mistakes.
Once again the Jets secondary struggled in man-to-man coverage and they failed to get a turnover for the fourth time this season. The game was closer than the 19-6 score indicates, but the Steelers made the plays that the Jets couldn’t.
The Jets were without Santonio Holmes and Kellen Winslow, and can be without the two for the next couple weeks. Jeff Cumberland has taken advantage of the additional playing time, leading the team in receiving yards for the second straight week. Not enough guys have stepped up, though.
The good news is Mike Goodson has looked good his first two weeks back from suspension. He left the game early with an injury, but if it isn’t serious this team has the weapons in the running game to make up for their injured receivers.
The Jets remain home next week, and welcome in the New England Patriots (4-1) for a rematch of the 13-10 loss at Foxborough.