Florham Park, N.J.– No one expected the Jets to go into Pittsburgh and throw up 48 points on the Steelers like they did against the Bills, but this was a winnable game and it sure looked winnable after the Jets first drive, but then… slowly things fell apart.
The Jets defense let the Steelers work their way into field goal range on the first two drives before tightening up and forcing the Steelers to settle for two field goals and the Jets opening drive made it looked like they were picking up right where they left off against Buffalo, but then Sanchez took a devastating shot to the head by Lawrence Timmons. Two plays later Sanchez looked like he had a 51 yard touchdown pass to rookie Stephen Hill, but as Hill jumped up with his arms out ready to catch the ball Ryan Clark swated Hill’s arm preventing him from making the catch. On the next play Shonn Greene ran up the middle for nine yards before taking a shot to the head that left him wobbly. Five plays later with the Jets facing third-and-five on the Steelers 19, Sanchez noticed the Steelers in press coverage and called a hot route for Jeff Cumberland who had no idea a hot route was called and didn’t even realize Sanchez threw a pass right at his back that could have picked up a first down, but instead forced the Jets to settle for a field goal.
That drive sums up the Jets day pretty perfectly. They started out hot, but then the Steelers quickly adjusted. Who knows how much that hit effected Sanchez, if at all, and losing Greene definitely disrupted the rhythm of the offense and allowed the Steelers to play more coverage, as they weren’t showing Bilal Powell the same respect they were giving Greene, but once the Steelers started playing press coverage the offensive production came to a screeching halt. Naturally right as the offense was sputtering, the Steelers figured out how to attack the Jets defense.
Obviously not having Revis put the Jets defense at a disadvantage, after all their entire defensive scheme is based around him, but Revis’ mere presence can’t make other defenders tackle. The Jets were victimized by poor tackling against C.J. Spiller, but that was on just a couple of plays, yesterday the tackling was piss poor all game. The missed tackles on Ben Roethlisberger are one thing, that’s just what he does, but there’s no excuse for the lackluster tackling they showed with everyone else and even granting Roethlisberger’s remarkable skill for evading pass rushers there were a few instances that were inexcusable.
With the talent on the Jets defensive line and the Steelers offensive line having injury issues this looked like a matchup that would favor the Jets but the line wasn’t able to apply any pressure on Roethlisberger without sending extra blitzers and when they did send extra blitzers Roethlisberger worked his magic skills and found the hole in the defense play after play. The Jets defense had all sorts of breakdowns yesterday, but Roethlisberger was simply outstanding.
The worst of said defensive breakdowns was by Antonio Cromartie. With the Steelers up 13-10 early in the third and facing a third-and-16 from the Jets 37 (just outside field goal range thanks to Muhammad Wilkerson wrapping up Dwyer for a six yard loss), Roethlisberger once again avoided pressure and chucked the ball high in the air. With Mike Wallace in the end zone readying himself for the catch Cromartie overran the pass, then stood there watching as if he expected the pass to sail harmlessly out of bounds. It didn’t sail out bounds though, it dropped right into Wallace’s hands and he nailed the landing barely getting his feet in bounds. If Cromartie gave Wallace a soft nudge as he was catching the ball the Steelers would have had to punt, instead they took a 20-10 lead and put the game out of reach.
The Jets linebackers couldn’t tackle, couldn’t create pressure to disrupt Roethlisberger and they couldn’t cover. Bart Scott and David Harris both got beat and continued to guess wrong on plays allowing for back breaking runs by the Steelers. Aaron Maybin was non-existent and there just wasn’t anything the Jets defense showed that fans can feel good about.
On offense it should now be clear to all that the Jets biggest problem is their inability to run the ball. Obviously Greene will take the blame by many fans, but the offensive line hasn’t been able to open up holes with any consistency. Matt Slauson turned in a performance so bad the Jets put Vlad Ducasse in his place. The receivers couldn’t get any separation once the Steelers went to press coverage and Santonio Holmes, after looking great on the first drive, ran lazy routes, dropped too many passes and was too quick to complain for pass interference whether he was justified or not.
The breakdowns weren’t limited to just the offense and defense with Jeremy Kerley’s muffed punt. It didn’t end up costing the Jets any points, but it was the cherry on top of the sundae of an all around bad game from the Jets. But as bad as the Jets looked yesterday, they were still just a few broken plays away from keeping the game close, but apart from the first drive the Jets never showed an ability to make the plays necessary to beat a team like the Steelers.
Last week the Jets overachieved by dropping 48 on the Bills, this week they underachieved. Losing to the Steelers in Pittsburgh is something any team can accept, however playing like the Jets did in Pittsburgh is something no team should ever accept.
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