Likes and Dislikes: Steelers vs. Jets
The Steelers left New Jersey, besting the Jets in passing yards and total yards. Pittsburgh had the same amount of 3rd down conversions (6) but a better percentage, on less attempts. They nearly had the same time of possession as their opponent. They limited Michael Vick to 10 completions and sacked the Jets QB 4 times. Pittsburgh only committed 3 penalties for a total of 20 yards, versus the Jets 9 fouls for 75.
If you were reading this on any other Monday morning, you might assume by the numbers above, that the Steelers not only won the game, but perhaps dominated New York, based on the team’s previous games.
This was not the case.
At the very foundation, the Steelers were their own worst enemy on Sunday, turning the ball over 4 times. Pittsburgh’s record-setting duo of Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown each contributed to half of those giveaways, each at an inopportune time.
Antonio Brown would cough up the ball on the Steelers 20, after a fumble, and on the Steelers 28, following a muffed punt.
Roethlisberger would throw 2 picks, both gobbled up by Jets S Jaiquawn Jarett. The first ended a 12 play 60 yard drive with zero points.
Other drives would end with 3 or less points, as well as other weirdness. Steady Shaun Suisham nailed a career long 53 yard field goal, but then missed the shortest chip shot of any NFL kicker this season.
The internet expression which best fits this game is SMH: shake my head.
The Jets were only able to produce 3 turnovers all season and fielded the worse pass defense in the NFL. The argument could be made that New York didn’t force most of these turnovers: Brown’s muffed punt was a miscue and one of Ben’s interceptions was a bad throw altogether. (As opposed to the Jets punching one ball from Brown’s gut and running a tip drill with another Big Ben pass: those were forced turnovers.)
Being the worst team in turnover differential, the Jets didn’t concede a single giveaway the entire game. Some of that can be attributed to luck or bad officiating, depending on who you talk to.
Michael Vick apparently fumbled the ball before being down by contact, but the officials on the field (and in the replay booth) didn’t see it that way. This play would’ve negated the following 4th down punt which ended in Brown muffing the return and giving the back right back to the Jets.
William Gay had a surefire interception slip through his gloves during a Jets 3rd down in the red zone: the drop allowed the Jets to kick a 3-pointer on the following play.
Following Suisham’s 2nd made field goal, Pittsburgh successfully recovered an onside kick, only to find a flag on the field. The referees say that Darrius Heyward-Bey was offside on the kick, but the benefit of slow-motion replay clearly shows this was a close call: one that felt ticky-tack and kept the momentum from swinging in the Steelers favor.
Those missed opportunities prevented Pittsburgh from gaining the same edge the maintained over the previous 3 games. With the loss, the Steelers fall into 2nd place in the AFC North, though, the season is far from over.
Many will point out the Steelers have lost games they should win. Their argument is well-founded: Tampa Bay has not won another game yet this year and the Jets had lost 8 straight. The Steelers will also have to better prepare to play on the road, having played miserably at Baltimore and Cleveland, in addition to yesterday’s game.
Ahead of them is a Monday Night road trip to Tennesee, where the Titans look like another win on paper. However, you cannot count wins on paper, as that’s why they play the games.
Following the Browns game, I noted the Steelers had to approach the following 5 game blocks with a 4-1 or 3-2 record in each. Should they defeat the Titans, they head into the bye week with a 7-4 record: going 3-2 (and a much-needed split with Cincinnati) they could end the season anywhere from 11-5 to 10-6 or 9-7.
Wins will be necessary in the AFC North, as for the first time since 1935, every team in a division is at least 2 games above .500 at any point during the season.
The frustrating thing is, this team had the ability to win, if not for their own self-defeat. As stated in our preview for the Jets game, the Steelers must limit their own mistakes: parity is such in the NFL that any team can (and will) take advantage of your errors.