The Jets pitched a shutout in their first snowy home game in 22 years.
The New York Jets had their playoff hopes crushed to pieces last week as they lost to the Buffalo Bills 17-6 in what was a dismal performance. Coming to East Rutherford, N.J. this week was the Pittsburgh Steelers who like the Jets were 5-8 and reeling. However, this Sunday Gang Green defensively pulled it together and provided Curtis Martin with all the running territory he needed at a snowy Meadowlands.
New York was without two defensive standouts; Sam Cowart who was nursing a thigh injury and John Abraham who was sidelined with a groin injury. Without their presence on the field, the defense was able to shutout the Steelers as New York went on to win by a final of 6-0 in a snowball fight. Sunday was the first time the Jets played in the snow in the last 22 years at home. Carrying the team to victory was Martin who did not allow the blizzard like conditions to get in his way. CuMart rushed for 174 yards on 30 carries and had 228 total yards on the day. Sunday was Curtis’ 47th NFL game with over 100 yards rushing.
Martin topped the 1,000-yard mark for the ninth straight season in the second quarter and is only the second player in NFL history do so. “I'm not big on statistics and individual goals, but this one is special to me. I'm only the second person in the world to do this.” Another feat accomplished by Curtis was passing John Riggins for 11th place on the all-time rushing list. “It's something I feel real good about,” Martin said about reaching 1,000. Quarterback Chad Pennington who was 15 for 25 with 144 yards on the day commented on Curtis Martin by saying, “Curtis is a professional who plays football.”
Doug Brien provided the only points for the Jets on the day as he ended the first possession with a 28-yard field goal. The three points he tacked onto the scoreboard ended the Jets’ 12 plays, 56-yard drive that lasted 6:40. Pittsburgh’s Jeff Reed was un-able to connect on a 43-yard field goal as he attempted to tie the game late in the first quarter. The score remained 3-0 until 0:08 were left on the clock in the first half. Brien connected on his second field goal of the day of 41 yards, which gave Gang Green a 6-0 lead at the half.
New York was able to hold off the Steelers from getting within the ten-yard line until the early portion of the fourth quarter. On a 3rd and 6 with 11:21 to go in the contest, Tommy Maddox threw an interception that was caught by Mickens inside of the end zone for a touchback. However, a roughing the passer penalty was assessed to Aaron Beasley, which gave Pittsburgh a new set of downs at the 3-yard line. First down was a hand off Zereoue, tackled by Marvin Jones for no gain. Second down, Maddox threw an incomplete pass intended for tight end Jay Riemersma. Third down, Maddox again was incomplete to wide receiver Hines Ward. On fourth down, Jeff Reed’s 20-yard field goal attempt was shanked wide left. The Jets put a great defensive stand together by denying the Steelers to score on six tries inside the six-yard line.
Despite the winter storm conditions the Jets only turned the ball over once. The conditions played havoc for all players demonstrated when WR Santana Moss was unable to determine his position on the playing field as he dove to catch a ball narrowly missing the end zone cameraman. Another play affected by the inclement weather was Pennington’s pass to a wide-open Moss down the sideline. Moss tried to get his footing, but was unable to do so as he slipped and fell, missing the ball, which would have been a touchdown. The longest play from scrimmage on the day was Martin’s 56-yard run down to the 10-yard line. The Jets defense only allowed a total of 231 total yards on the day; 94 rushing and 137 passing.
The play calling on both the offensive and defensive side of the field was well managed by Jets coaches. Pennington’s ability to use play-action and dump off passes to Martin and Jerald Sowell provided much of the passing offense. Tyrone Carter, Marvin Jones, Victor Hobson, Jason Glenn and the rest of the defensive unit played aggressive and un-forgiving. Mickens seemed to be everywhere the ball was on Sunday as he finished with four tackles and four pass deflections.
Jerome Bettis passed former Steelers great Franco Harris for eighth place on the all-time rushing list.
After the contest, Head Coach Edwards said, “Obviously, it was a game of a lot of sledding and I guess we had the best snowshoes.”
The Jets now face their AFC East rival New England Patriots on Saturday night at the Meadowlands. With a 6-8 record, the Jets must win their final two to finish at .500 and Edwards will have the troops fired up.