FLORHAM PARK, NJ — History suggest that it’d be an impossibility. With an all-time record of 0-9 in the state of Pennsylvania, the Jets managed to steal a victory in the Steel City, thanks in large part the the special teams and defense.
Brad Smith proved to Brian Schottenheimer that his explosiveness can still be utilized in the game without stuffing the Wildcat down opponent’s throats.
Jason Taylor proved to his coaches that, at age 36, is still worthy of extra playing time.
And the Jets proved they can beat an elite team.
The final exams are in and it’s safe to say the Jets passed all of them. So without further adieu…The Official JetsInsider.com’s Final Exam Morning After Report.
- No touchdowns for Mark Sanchez, but no turnovers either. Can’t complain from that standpoint. Schottenheimer allowed Sanchez to chip away against a questionable Steelers secondary, minus Troy Polamalu.
- We had a Braylon Edwards sighting yesterday. No, unfortunately, he did not teach us how to Dougie…again. But he did pull in eight receptions for 100 yards.
- The offense’s two weakest points, third-down efficiency (6-for-13) and red zone efficiency (1-for-3), didn’t look too bad — especially against a stingy Steelers’ defense.
- For the first time in three games the Jets had less than 30 rushing attempts (27). It was mostly the Mark Sanchez Show on offense, but the running game forced the Steelers to respect the run, which allowed that extra second on play-action passes.
- Despite his rushing total (49), LaDanian Tomlinson yards per carry averaged bounced back up to his early season numbers (4.9). With less touches, Tomlinson’s explosiveness is…well, more explosive.
- When Sanchez is able to use his feet to make plays, whether it be extending plays or pulling the ball down and running with it, the offense is far more effective.
PASSING DEFENSE: B-
- The pass rush did their best to mask a hurting Jets secondary. Drew Coleman’s two strip-sacks were huge. Add Bryan Thomas’ bone-chilling sack kept the fleet-footed Ben Roesthlisberger.
- I’ll give a pass on the secondary for Mike Wallace, as he’s been consistently faster than any team’s cornerback. He burned the Jets for seven receptions and 102 yards.
- The problem arises when rookie Emmanuel Sanders, who was mostly covered by Darrelle Revis, has seven receptions for 72 yards. I’d expect a better performance by Revis in his hometown. Perhaps with the cold weather, the hamstring was a tighter than expected.
RUSHING DEFENSE: C
- For the first time all season the Jets allowed a 100-yard rusher with Rashad Mendenhall’s 100 performance.
- The Steeler’s 147 yards rushing is the most a Jets defense has given up since Oct. 12, 2009 against the Miami Dolphins, a 31-27 road loss.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
- How many more tricks does Brad Smith up his sleeve? He’s certainly living up his “Swiss Army Knife” nickname, alluding to his versatility.
- As the season comes to the end, I’m becoming more and more convinced that the team MVP is none other than punter Steve Weatherford. I haven’t seen a punter more important to his team since Jeff Feagles was coffin-kicking for the cross-town Giants. Ryan loves getting into a chess-like positional battle during games and Weatherford is his perfect rook. With three of his four punts being downed within the 20-yard line, it’s hard to disagree with Ryan.
- In a week that coined the phrase “Sal the Tripper”, kudos to the Jets staff for keep their team focused on the playoffs.
- Ryan’s Rudy-like pregame motivational speech has already added to his Paul Bunyon-sized folklore.
- After calling for his job earlier in the week, I must give a pat on the back of Brian Schottenheimer. He came in to this pivotal game with a solid game plan for his team. And he always looks better when his players can execute his plan.
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