(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The Jets have a tall order on Sunday when they visit the Steelers trying to prove that their Week 1 win wasn't a fluke.
For some, it wasn't enough. For many it will never be enough. With the magnifying glass so squarely on the New York Jets that they could feel themselves burning, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan and Co. dismantled the rival Buffalo Bills in Week 1, hanging 48 points on one of the media's preseason darlings. But nobody, especially the media and non-Jets fans, wants to admit that they were all gaga over the Bills this preseason after the Jets made it look so easy. The Bills must just be that bad, and perhaps they are. We'll find that out. And now the Jets have to prove that they're not the joke everyone thought they were on Sunday when they enter hostile Heinz Field to take on the hungry, probably angry, 0-1 Pittsburgh Steelers.
There's no question that it's going to be a tough task. Historically the Jets have been putrid in Steel Town and against the Steelers in general - Pittsburgh is 15-4 all-time in the regular season against New York. And of course, the Jets go to Heinz Field with recent bad memories as Sunday is their first trip there since falling 24-13 in the 2011 AFC Championship Game.
While there are familiar faces on both sides, the teams are quite different. For the Steelers, they're not the stifling defense they have been in the past, due to some of their top players like Troy Polamalu getting up there in age and being hit with injuries. Additionally, something the Steelers haven't been able to fix in the past few years is their battered offensive line. On Sunday night in their season opener at Denver, the Steelers allowed Roethlisberger to get sacked five times. The Jets to not have as dynamic a defensive front as the Broncos do, but it could be an opportunity for rookie Quinton Coples to register his first NFL sack or for second year man Muhammad Wilkerson to show he's made a leap as a pass rusher.
On Sunday against the Bills, the Jets' offense looked better than anyone expected it would, and by that we mean the performance of Sanchez. He looked as comfortable, confident, accurate and in control than he's ever really looked. As with the Jets' overall performance, some were quick to temper the enthusiasm around Sanchez's 123.4-rating performance, putting most of it on a weak performance from the Bills' secondary. Surely the Bills were bad, but Sanchez did pick them apart, down the field with success. While perhaps not as good as they're usually known to be, most expect this Steelers defense to give Sanchez all he can handle. The Jets are also sure to run their Wildcat package with Tim Tebow at quarterback for a number of plays, and they certainly hope Tebow will do a bit better than Sunday's five carry, 11 yard performance.
While Week 1 of the NFL is always a time for overreaction, the Jets didn't seem to get a huge national attention bump from their dominant opening season win, while teams like the Redskins and Ravens did. Will they get it if they go into Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers? And if they lose, will it be "I told you so"?
Jets vs. Bills 2012, NFL Highlights - Sanchez Leads Jets to Victory (via sbnation)
Jets at Steelers
Where: Heinz Field
When: Sunday, Sept. 16; 4:25 p.m. ET
Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM
Line: Steelers -6