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Grading out the Jets victory yesterday...
Quarterback (B+) - It was an efficient, poised performance from the Jets second year quarterback. Mark Sanchez protected the football and looked sharp in the short and intermediate passing game. Considering the road the Jets will have to take if they want to reach a Super Bowl, seeing him play well in Pittsburgh was very encouraging.
Running Backs (B) - LaDainian Tomlinson looked much more spry than he did in recent weeks and combined with Shonn Greene, did just enough to keep the Jets offensive attack balanced. 89 yards on 23 carries for Tomlinson and Greene is nothing to be ashamed of against this defense.
Wide Receivers (A-) - Braylon Edwards picked a great time to play his best game as a Jet. He was repeatedly clutch and tough over the middle, hauling in a few highly difficult catches. Santonio Holmes contributed 6 receptions for 40 yards in his old stadium.
Tight Ends (B) - A quiet day for Dustin Keller with 3 receptions for 19 yards but overall the blocking was solid from this group.
Offensive Line (A) - A very strong performance from this group who kept Sanchez clean and got a solid push in the running game. Wayne Hunter filled in admirably for Damien Woody.
Defensive Line (C) - Not the best day at the office for this group, who allowed Rashard Mendenhall to rack up 100 yards and a touchdown. They were short on depth with Trevor Pryce out of the line-up.
Linebackers (C) - They catch some slack for the poor run defense also. Jason Taylor came up huge with a monster safety late in the game. The Jets need him to be active if they are going to make a run in January.
Secondary (B) - Ben Roethlisberger barely completed 50 percent of his passes and Drew Coleman turned in a career day with 10 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.
Special Teams (A) - Returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown is exactly what this team needed, as Brad Smith continued his push for a Pro-Bowl spot. Steve Weatherford and Nick Folk both had strong games, which is encouraging at this time of the year.
Coaching (A) - Rex Ryan managed to have his team confident and emotional heading into this game and it payed off. Brian Schottenheimer out coached Dick LeBeau, in the biggest surprise of the day.
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) – Mark Sanchez scrambled for a game-tying touchdown and the New York Jets scored 12 unanswered points to snap a two-game losing streak with a 22-17 win over Pittsburgh.
The Jets defense bent, but didn’t break as Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers on a drive in the final 2:08 of the game. Roethlisberger threw incomplete into the end zone on a 10-yard pass after time expired.
It was the first time the Jets ever won a game in Pittsburgh. They were 0-6 in the Steel City entering the game.
Pittsburgh took a 17-10 lead on Rashard Mendenhall’s two-yard touchdown run on the first series of the second half, but Sanchez scored on a bootleg to tie the game and the Jets (10-4) moved ahead in the fourth quarter on Nick Folk’s 34-yard field goal and a safety when Jason Taylor tackled Mewelde Moore in the end zone.
Sanchez completed 19 of his 29 passes for 170 yards, hitting Braylon Edwards eight times for 100 yards. Although he didn’t throw a touchdown pass, Sanchez’s scrambling score in the third quarter was New York’s first offensive touchdown in 12 quarters.
Brad Smith ran the opening kickoff back 97 yards, taking it down the right sideline for the Jets’ other touchdown on Sunday.
The Steelers (10-4) had a four-game winning streak snapped, losing for the first time since November 14 to New England.
Roethlisberger ran 22 yards for a first down on the final drive and completed passes of 29 yards to Emmanuel Sanders, 18 yards to Mike Wallace and 16 yards to Antonio Brown to take the Steelers from their own eight-yard line to the New York 10.
But his throw to tight end Matt Spaeth in the left side of the end zone with zeroes on the clock wasn’t close to being completed.
Roethlisberger finished 23-of-44 for 264 yards and a nine-yard touchdown pass to Spaeth that tied the game at 7-7 in the first quarter. Mendenhall rushed 17 times for 100 yards.
The teams traded field goals at the end of the first half
- Folk kicked a 25 yarder and Shaun Suisham was good from 42 yards — and headed to their locker rooms tied 10-10.
Mendenhall’s bruising two-yard run through the middle of the line capped Pittsburgh’s 74-yard drive to open the third quarter and made it 17-10.
New York had been without an offensive touchdown since Sanchez hit Santonio Holmes for a 13-yard score in the third quarter of a 26-10 win over Cincinnati on November 25.
In between then and Sunday, the Jets suffered two embarrassing losses: a 45-3 dismantling by AFC East rival New England and a 10-6 loss in the rain to Miami last week.
Sanchez put an end to the streak, perfectly executing a fake handoff and taking the bootleg into the end zone on the left side to cap a 66-yard drive and tie the game at 17-17. The Jets gained 30 yards on one play when Edwards caught a 15-yard pass and the Steelers were called for unnecessary roughness.
Pittsburgh punted, and Folk booted a 34-yarder to give New York the lead 4:53 into the fourth quarter.
Three series later, Pittsburgh was pinned down at its own three-yard line by a Steve Weatherford punt. Moore took a handoff on the first play and was met at the goal line by Taylor, who threw him down for the safety and a 22-17 lead.
Without the safety, the Steelers could have tried a game-tying field goal on their final drive. Instead they needed a touchdown, and Roethlisberger’s offense came up 10 yards short.
Holmes had six catches for 40 yards…LaDainian Tomlinson led New York with 49 yards rushing on 11 carries, while Shonn Greene had 40 yards on 12 runs…Roethlisberger fumbled twice, but didn’t lose either one…The Jets are 3-1 in the last four meetings…Tomlinson had one catch, joining Marshall Faulk and Larry Centers as the only NFL running backs with 50 or more receptions in nine seasons.
Pittsburgh Steelers play-making, hard-hitting safety Troy Palomalu is doubtful for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets with an ankle injury.
Palomalu did not practice this week as Pittsburgh prepped for the Jets.
“You don’t replace Troy Polamalu,” said reserve safety Ryan Mundy, who practiced with the first-team defense in Polamalu’s absence during the week. “But there is a standard set and that is to play hard and play physical.”
For the Jets this week DE Trevor Pryce (hip), S Eric Smith (concussion), T Damien Woody (knee) are out, S James Ihedigbo (ankle, knee) is questionable and C Nick Mangold (shoulder), DT Sione Pouha (finger), CB Darrelle Revis (hamstring), WR Brad Smith (hand) are all probable.
For the Steelers, DE Aaron Smith (triceps) is out, Palomalu and DT Steve McLendon (stinger) are doubtful, E Heath Miller (concussion) is questionable and T Flozell Adams (ankle), CB Bryant McFadden (hamstring) are probable.
The Jets (9-4) have only scored nine points in their last two games, both losses.
It is without question going to be an ardous task for the Jets to get a victory this Sunday and they are rightly major underdogs. However, here is how they can pull the upset --
1. Points, Points, Points - The Jets need points from their defense or special teams to supplement their offense on Sunday. Their best bet is Santonio Holmes taking one to the house on a punt or Antonio Cromartie taking advantage of an errant Ben Roethlisberger pass.
2. Pressure - Pittsburgh has struggled to protect Roethlisberger in the pocket and because of that, struggled to consistently move the football. The Jets have to get after him early and bring him down when they have a chance. Pittsburgh's offense is most dangerous when Roethlisberger is improvising outside of the pocket.
3. Protect - The Jets can't afford to turn the football over and give Pittsburgh a short field. Mark Sanchez needs to eat the ball instead of trying to fit it into a tight spot and not leave the ball around his waist, when the pass rush is coming. Steelers safety Troy Polamalu isn't expected to play, which is a nice boost to this key.
4. Pound - Despite Pittsburgh's ability to stop the run, the Jets can't completely abandon their ground attack. Shonn Greene needs to lead the way and Joe McKnight needs some chances to run on the edge. Sorry LaDainian Tomlinson but you have lost about 3 steps since week 1.
5. Pray - For the fanbase, pray that the Jets aren't going to send you to Chicago for a must win in week 16 and then have to beat the upstart Bills at home for a playoff spot.
(Sports Network) – The safest source of fantasy points out of this matchup may come from an outstanding Steelers’ defense that features a pair of IDP monsters in James Harrison and Lawrence Timmons, with Rashard Mendenhall a very low-risk choice at the running back position as well. Ben Roethlisberger also merits starting consideration among Pittsburgh players, but keep in mind he’s only thrown one touchdown pass over the last three games and will be facing a tough Jets defense spearheaded by a dynamic duo at the cornerback position. The story is similar for the Jets, who’d likely get the most mileage from Santonio Holmes, wide receiver Braylon Edwards and Dustin Keller.
(Sports Network) – There are not many quarterbacks who take a week-in, week-out beating like Ben Roethlisberger (2,336 passing yards, 13 TD, 5 INT), who showed no ill effects from the broken nose he suffered in Week 13 against Baltimore this past week versus the Bengals. He’s averaged just under 260 passing yards per game on the year, with wide receivers Mike Wallace (46 receptions, 946 yards, 8 TD) and Hines Ward (49 receptions, 4 TD) having benefited the most from Roethlisberger’s presence. Wallace serves as Pittsburgh’s main big-play threat and is among the league leaders at 20.6 yards per reception. However, the second-year speedster could have his work cut out for him this week, as he figures to be matched up against New York All-Pro corner Darrelle Revis. With the Jets playing mostly man coverage, the Steelers will certainly utilize returning tight end Heath Miller (33 receptions, 1 TD), who missed last week’s game with a concussion. A ground attack that ranks a respectable 10th overall in rushing yards (120.2 ypg) is led by running back Rashard Mendenhall (1,073 rushing yards, 9 TD, 20 receptions).
Pittsburgh’s offense has managed just two touchdowns in the last three games and could find some tough sledding this week, as they face a Jets defense that ranks third in the NFL in yards allowed. Albeit against a lesser opponent, New York’s stingy secondary allowed Miami just 55 yards through the air this past week while holding the Dolphins to 131 yards overall. New York’s defense is led by one of the top cornerback duos in the NFL in Antonio Cromartie (35 tackles, 3 INT) and Revis (21 tackles, 8 PD). The Jets have also had success against the run, ranking third-best in the league with an allowance of 88.5 yards per contest. Defensive lineman Sione Pouha (55 tackles, 2 sacks) and Mike DeVito (50 tackles) have done a terrific job clogging the middle, while end Shaun Ellis (34 tackles, 5 sacks) is one of the few Jets who have gotten to the quarterback consistently this year. The Jets rank 11th in the league with 32 sacks, but took down Miami’s Chad Henne five times in the Week 14 loss. Already without safety Jim Leonhard, the Jets lost replacement Eric Smith to a concussion last week that will keep him out of Sunday’s test as well.
(Sports Network) – Few units have been more scrutinized this past week than the Jets offense, and in particular Mark Sanchez (2,852 yards, 16 TD, 12 INT), who has thrown an interception in eight straight games while failing to find the end zone in the last two. While Sanchez’s play has certainly been lackluster, he hasn’t gotten much help from his receivers. Santonio Holmes (41 receptions, 4 TD) dropped a sure touchdown in the loss to Miami, while Jerricho Cotchery (36 receptions, 2 TD) mishandled a pass over the middle that surely would have been a big gain. If the Jets are going to make headway against a very formidable Steelers defense this week, they are going to have to throw the ball. Tight end Dustin Keller (45 receptions, 5 TD) has virtually been a non-factor the last four weeks and has not scored since Week 4.
If Sanchez is going to get untracked, though, he may rely on the former first round pick out of Purdue. The running game was non-existent against the Dolphins and leading rusher LaDanian Tomlinson (837 rushing yards, 49 receptions, 5 TD) is starting to look every bit the 31 years of age he is. The former league MVP has managed just 3.4 yards-per-carry over the last four weeks. Making matters even worse for the Jets’ running attack is the fact that right tackle Damien Woody is likely out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury.
The Jets’ running game will likely once again be held in check this week, as the Steelers are yielding a league-low 60.1 rushing yards per game and have allowed a meager 50.1 per week on the ground during the winning streak. The four touchdowns the defense has surrendered on the ground are also the fewest in the NFL. Over the course of the winning streak, the Steelers have allowed just 9.1 points per game. Inside linebackers Lawrence Timmons (108 tackles, 3 sacks) and James Farrior (93 tackles, 4 sacks) have been exceptionally stingy against enemy backs and get plenty of space to work due to five-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Casey Hampton’s (15 tackles, 1 sack) ability to tie up blockers, while outside linebacker James Harrison (79 tackles, 10 sacks, 2 INT) has been a force against the run as well in addition to his prowess as a pass rusher. The 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year heads up a group that’s tied for the NFL lead with 39 sacks, while Woodley (44 tackles, 9 sacks) and Farrior, who’s netted a sack in four of the last six games, have also thrived in coordinator Dick LeBeau’s blitz-happy scheme. Polamalu (62 tackles, 1 sack, 6 INT) is the headliner of the secondary and may the team’s most important player, as he tops the Steelers in interceptions and is regarded as one of the game’s best-run stopping safeties.
How the Jets can clinch a playoff spot in week 15 -
1) Jets Win + Miami Loss or Tie + Indianapolis Loss or Tie + Kansas City Loss
2) Jets Win + Miami Loss or Tie + Indiannapolis Loss or Tie + San Diego Loss or Tie
3) Jets Tie + Miami Loss + Indianapolis Loss or Tie + San Diego Loss
Games of Interest -
Despite an ugly two-game losing streak, the New York Jets still control their own destiny when it comes making the 2010 NFL playoffs. It will take a win in two of their three final games, starting this week in Pittsburgh where the Jets face the 10-3 Steelers.
Pittsburgh is probably the second-best team in the conference and as usual is led by a strong, physical defense. They are first in the NFL at defending the run, although are only ranked 23rd at defending the pass. Over the past four games, Pittsburgh has allowed an average of 9 points. The scariest stat when thinking about the Jets offense facing them is they have already racked up 39 sacks, 17 interceptions, and 24 forced fumbles.
On the other side of the ball, Ben Roethlisberger has been productive since returning in week 5, with 13 touchdowns to 5 interceptions. He is always a threat to run the ball and is one of the most difficult quarterbacks in the league to sack. Rashard Mendenhall is having a strong year running the football with 1,073 yards and 9 touchdowns. Mike Wallace is Pittsburgh's big play receiver and has 946 yards on only 46 receptions, along with 8 touchdowns. Hines Ward leads the team with 49 receptions and has 638 receiving yards. Tight end Heath Miller is expected to return after missing last week and is a threat in the middle of the field.
My initial thoughts on this match-up is despite Pittsburgh's ability to stop the run, the Jets still must lean on their ground attack, in particular Shonn Greene, to lead the way. It would be insane to drop Mark Sanchez back 44 times against this defense on the road. I think the Jets match-up well in terms of defending the Steelers offense. Darrelle Revis should be assigned to Mike Wallace, with Antonio Cromartie covering Hines Ward. The key will be preventing Roethlisberger from extending plays and not letting Heath Miller, Emmanuel Sanders, or Antawan Randle El kill them in the middle of the field.
This is an uphill battle for the Jets and it will likely take points from special teams or defense to pull the upset.
Here is a look at Pittsburgh's 2010 stats so far -
|Antwaan Randle El||13||1||2||.200||2||2||0||19||224||17.2||11.8||34||0|
|Antwaan Randle El||13||19||224||17.2||11.8||34||0|
|Kickoff Returns||Punt Returns|
|Antwaan Randle El||13||0||0||0||0||0||12||48||4||15||0|
|Shaun Suisham||4||1 - 1||1 - 1||1 - 1||6 - 6||0 - 0||9||9||100.0%||9||9||100.0%||36|
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