The Jets struggled in all phases during their 27-10 defeat in Pittsburgh against the Steelers. Mark Sanchez couldn’t orchestrate scoring drives, receivers dropped passes, the defense missed tackle after tackle and the special teams made a mistake the team couldn’t afford.
“It came down to the simple fact they out-executed us and played better in all phases, including coaching,” said Rex Ryan in his post-game press conference.
The Jets also lost the third down battle, succeeding on only 4-12 while allowing the Steelers to complete over 50% of their third down conversions.
“We couldn’t get off the field on third down and we couldn’t stay on the field on third down,” said Ryan.
After giving up a field goal in the game’s opening possession, Sanchez came out firing, marching 90 yards in eight plays on the team’s opening offensive possession, resulting in a Santonio Holmes touchdown reception. The Steelers answered with their second field goal in as many possessions.
The Jets second drive gobbled up 61 yards in 12 plays and resulted in a Nick Folk field goal to put the Jets up 10-6.
After trading three and outs, Ben Roethlisberger constructed an 11-play, 80-yard time consuming drive that ended with Heath Miller beating David Harris in the end zone.
After returning the kickoff to the 32-yard line with two timeouts and 1:03 seconds on the clock, Ryan decided to sit on the ball and not even attempt to grab more points before the half was over.
“There was discussion about it, but ultimately it was Sparano’s call,” said Sanchez of the time management at the end of the half.
The Jets received the ball to start the second half, but couldn’t muster up enough offense to cross the other side of the 50-yard line. The wheels started to come off after Roethlisberger completed an 11-yard pass to Antonio Brown combined with a LaRon Landry horse-collar tackle that brought the Steelers into Jets territory. Shortly after, Big Ben tossed a jump ball to Mike Wallace who came down with the ball in the end zone, beating Antonio Cromartie rather easily.
“It was a back-breaker obviously,” said Ryan. “That was a killer play in the game.”
With 8:44 left in the third quarter, the Jets were looking for a spark. Tim Tebow provided a small one, carrying the ball 22 yards on his first carry right through the middle of the Steelers defense. Joe McKnight followed with a 12-yard first down run of his own, as the Jets seemingly snapped out of their funk. But after a negative run by Shonn Greene, Sanchez re-entered on second and 16 and couldn’t sustain the drive.
“We didn’t have the couple of throws or couple of catches we needed to come up with on third down,” said Sanchez.
With the field position switched, the Jets defense came up with a well-timed third down stop and the Steelers punted from their own 13 yard line.
With the Jets looking to get back into the game, the Steelers recovered a Jeremy Kerley muffed punt, seemingly taking the wind out of the Jets’ sail. Even though no points were scored as a direct result of the kick, field position was changed and the Jets didn’t come close to sniffing the end zone. Last ditch efforts were thwarted by multiple dropped passes from Kerley and Holmes.
“The throws weren’t there at times, the catches weren’t there at times. We just came up short,” said Sanchez.
The defense—worn out by Roethlisberger’s third down success—became sloppy, not wrapping up and missing tackles until an Isaac Redman rushing touchdown put the game out of reach.
“Every time you play him [Roethlisberger] you appreciate the guy more and more, but it’s hard to take,” said Ryan of the Steelers signal caller.
The absence of Darrelle Revis seemed to rear its’ ugly head at the worst times. The Jets would not use the injury as an excuse for the loss, but seeing Emmanuel Sanders and Brown catching critical third down passes again and again would not let anyone forget an important piece was missing.
“There’s no excuse. Guys have to step up and we just couldn’t get it done,” said Ryan. “They were without players, we were without players, that’s the way it is. You play with who you have. We felt comfortable and confident we were going to get it done but Pittsburgh did a lot better job at executing then we did.”
After the Jets initial success on their first offensive drive of the game, Sanchez completed 6-21 passes for 68 yards and the team ran for 87 yards. The most telling stat was the aforementioned lack of third down success, where the Jets were successful on only two of 10 tries.
“One for seven on third down in the second half isn’t going to beat anyone,” said Sanchez. “Us not converting on third down was a big hit today.”
Another glaring absence was rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill, who was only targeted two times and didn’t record a catch.
“We just didn’t get him the ball at certain points. Just the way the game went. Sometimes that’s the way it happens,” said Sanchez.
Through two games the Jets offense has hit both sides of the spectrum. After exploding against Buffalo and then struggling against Pittsburgh, it is reasonable to assume that when it’s all set it done, the offense will finish somewhere in between. The Jets must shake off the loss quickly and regroup, because a meeting with the NFL’s best defense is looming two weeks away.
As Sanchez said, the best thing for the Jets is to, “take it on the chin and move on.”
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