Jets vs. Steelers: Live Game Grades & Player Analysis

Rocco Constantino@@br_jets_reportContributor ISeptember 16, 2012

Jets vs. Steelers: Live Game Grades & Player Analysis

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    The Jets had won just one game in their 43-year history in Pittsburgh coming into this week, so expectations couldn't have been too high, even after their big win against the Bills last week.

    The troubling thing about the game though was the skittish play of Mark Sanchez, multiple drops by their wide receivers, stupid penalites and a defense that showed a serious lack of conditioning.

    Ben Roethlisberger picked apart the Jets methodically, marching right down the middle of the field all day, as the Steelers offense operated with ease.

    The Jets missed Darrelle Revis for sure, but he may not have made the difference here.

    Going forward, the Jets are going to need to show better discipline.

    Let's take a look at the game grades and final analysis for each unit.

Mark Sanchez D

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    Sanchez was plagued by troubling inaccuracy all game as he turned in a performance that brought back memories of his rookie year.  He couldn't get the ball to his receivers and when he did, they didn't help him one bit.  

    Q4: F

    Sanchez was incomplete on his first five passes of the fourth quarter before completing a meaningless pass to Jeff Cumberland with a minute left.  

    Q3: C-

    Sanchez was just 3-for-6 for 20 yards as inconsistency remains in his game.  He doesn't look comfortable with the ball and seems to be getting a tad nervous as the Steelers have dialed up the pressure.

    CBS announcer Jim Nantz pointed out that Sanchez has completed just three passes over the past two hours of real time.  This was just before he sailed a third-down pass over Jeremy Kerley.

    Q2: D

    Sanchez didn't complete a pass in the entire second quarter, failing to connect on five attempts.

    Sanchez wasn't at his most accurate in the second quarter, but still led the Jets on a scoring drive.  He probably could have gotten the ball out further on a deep chance taken to Stephen Hill and he missed an open Santonio Holmes on what could have been a touchdown on a 1st-and-10 from the Steelers' 24-yard-line.

    His only other drive in the second quarter was a three-and-out in which he threw two incomplete passes.

    Q1: A

    Sanchez came out looking sharp once again and led the Jets on an eight play, 90-yard drive for an opening-drive touchdown.  Three plays by Sanchez really stood out.  First, Sanchez  converted a 3rd-and-9 with an 11-yard pass to Santonio Holmes.  He then hooked up with Jeremy Kerley for a 45-yard pass play.  He then hit Holmes for a 14-yard touchdown off of a beautiful play fake.

Offense D

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    The first two drives weren't so bad, but for some reason the offense just looked totally out of sync over the final three quarters.  Mark Sanchez was inaccurate and looked tentative for the first time since last season and even when his passes were on target, he received little help from his wide receivers.

    Santonio Holmes had three drops while Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley were practically invisible.

    Q4: F

    It was a total disappearing act by the offense in the fourth quarter.  The Jets were still in the game at the start of the quarter, down by just 10 points.  However, they couldn't get the offense going when it still mattered.

    Q3: D

    The Jets were unable to put up any points in the third quarter and didn't show much life or consistency at all.

    The big news was the return of Shonn Greene, whose return was questionable.  He had to pass a battery of tests by an independent neurologist in order to return to action.  The Jets offense however remained stuck in neutral though as a holding call against Greene and a sack short-circuited their opening drive.

    Tim Tebow provided a great spark to the offense as he showed the reason is is on the team.  His 22-yard run gave the offense it's first spark since the Santonio Holmes touchdown.  The offense fizzled out though once again.

    Q2: B-

    The running game picked up tremendously, but the passing game fell off to balance it out.  

    Shonn Greene ran well before leaving the game with what looked like a possible head injury.  Bilal Powell ran for 21 yards in his place though.

    The Jets were able to put three points on the board, but could have continued their drive a little further.  There was a miscommunication between Jeff Cumberland and Mark Sanchez, resulting in a failed third-down conversion.  Had Cumberland read the blitz, the Jets could have had a first down near the 10-yard-line.

    Aside from running out the clock to end the half, the Jets had two drives in the second quarter, resulting in three points.

    Q1: A-

    Thee Jets moved the ball nicely as they continued to show that they will take shots down the field.  Mark Sanchez converted an excellent third down with Santonio Holmes and also hooked up with Jeremy Kerley for a 45-yard catch and run.

    The Sanchez-to-Santonio Holmes touchdown was an easy pitch-and-catch after a great pump fake by Sanchez.

    It was the first opening-drive touchdown allowed by the Steelers since December of 2010.

    There was no real life in the running game though.

Defense D

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    The theme this week when talking about the Jets defense will be their conditioning.  The defense was absolutely gassed in the fourth quarter and it showed with poor tackling in the run game, something that hasn't happened often in the Rex Ryan era.

    Ben Roethlisberger tore apart the middle of the field all game as extended playing time for Isiah Trufant and Ellis Lankster went as expected.

    The defense missed at least three sacks on Roethlisberger, bouncing off the huge signal-caller all day.

    Q4: D

    The defense couldn't get off the field and was visibly exhausted when the team needed a stop.  They weren't helped by a replay that should have seen that Ike Redman was stopped in the backfield, but that still was no excuse.

    Their tackling was shoddy at best, as this performance looked like it was something you would see in Week 17, not Week 2.

    Q3: C

    The Mike Wallace touchdown was the result of an atrocious play by Antonio Cromartie.  He failed to locate the football, which was thrown up for grabs, and ran past the play.  All Cromartie needed to do was either jump to break up the play or push Wallace out of bounds while he was in the air.  The slightest contact to Wallace would have resulted in an incompletion and a failed third-down conversion.

    LaRon Landry has now missed a sack and committed two personal foul penalties.

    On the plus side, the Jets had a nice stop after Jeremy Kerley's fumbled punt.  

    Q2: C

    The Steelers continue to make plays in the passing game as it's clear that the absence of Darrelle Revis has opened up the middle of the field as well as the outside.  The team continued to allow yards to the Steelers, but has thus far kept them out of the end zone.

    LaRon Landry narrowly avoided two late-hit penalties early int he quarter, but he finally picked one up to put the Steelers inside the 15-yard-line.  Landry later couldn't cash in a sack on Ben Roethlisberger as he brushed pass the quarterback on a play that could have forced the Steelers into a field goal attempt instead of a touchdown.

    The Jets defensive line has played well, generating two sacks and playing the run very well inside the 10-yard line.

    Q1: C

    The Jets did well to hold the Steelers to three points on the opening drive as they stopped Ike Redman for two negative runs and dropped Ben Roethlisberger for their first sack of the year.  Garrett McIntyre recorded the sack, with Quinton Coples and Demario Davis generating immediate pressure to collapse the pocket.

    The Jets gave up too many big plays though.  They gave up big chunks of yardage in the passing game and allowed the Steelers to convert an early third down on an end around. 

    The Jets have been displaying a bend-but-don't-break defense so far as they have given up some big chunks at times, but have come up with the necessary plays to keep the Steelers to just three first quarter points.  They need to tighten up their pass coverage and tackling.

    Four tackles behind the line of scrimmage have saved them thus far.

Special Teams F

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    Q4: C-

    The punt team was in action plenty of times in the fourth quarter, with mixed results.  The team's first five drives of the game resulted in punts, with two of them being excellent while three others failing to generate anything positive.

    Q3: F

    The only real play they had to make in the third quarter resulted in an awful fumble by Jeremy Kerley.  Kyle Wilson was called for an illegal block in the back on the play to boot.  

    Luckily, the fumble didn't result in points, but it did cost the team field position.

    Q2: B-

    Nick Folk converted a 38-yard field goal and continues his very solid early-season play.  

    Robert Malone nailed a 58-yard punt that should have been downed inside the two-yard-line by Isiah Trufant.  Despite an initial call by the referees that said otherwise, Trufant's foot came down in the end zone before he could down it.  Trufant needs to be more aware of that.

    Q1: B

    Nick Folk's opening touchback was his seventh out of 10 kickoffs this year.  It would be huge if he could continue at that pace.  

    Joe McKnight had a decent return of the Steelers' kickoff after their field goal that was negated by a holding call on Bilal Powell.

Coaching C+

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    The Jets got somewhat conservative on offense and defense, getting away from what had been successful for them.

    Rex Ryan threw two challenges, going one-for-one.  Both challenges were the right choices to make, with the referees misreading the team's second challenge.

    The coaching staff needs to be marked down slightly due to some penalties.

    Q4: B-

    Rex Ryan threw his second challenge of the game, contesting that Yeremiah Bell recovered a fumble with a little more than seven minutes left in the game.  It was the right call to make as the Jets had to take a chance there that it would be overturned.  At the very least, Ike Redman should have been ruled down in the backfield.

    Q3: C-

    The Jets have gotten conservative on both offense and defense, getting away from what has been successful for them at the start of the season.  

    The Jets weren't hurt by penalties in the early part of the season, but were hit by two killers in the third quarter.  Shonn Greene's hold put a damper on the offense while LaRon Landry's horse collar gave the Steelers great field position prior to Mike Wallace's touchdown.

    While it wasn't the coaching staff who committed the penalties, player discipline falls on the coaches.

    On the plus side, the Jets put Tim Tebow in the game at the right time and spurred a stalled offense.  They also didn't stick with him too long, as Sanchez had to be back on the field on an obvious passing down.  This is why he is on the team.

    Rex Ryan rightly challenged a bad spot by the officials on a Mike Wallace reception late in the third quarter.  Spot calls are tough to overturn, but this was an obvious one.

    Q2: B+

    It's been a quiet day thus far on the sidelines for the Jets.  The team hasn't seen this kind of creativity and consistency from its offensive coordinator since possibly the Charlie Weis days.

    It was a nice idea to call a timeout just before Heath Miller's touchdown to possibly allow the offense one last chance with the ball, but then simply ran out the clock as the half drew to a close.  The broadcast booth may have agreed with the decision, but I didn't.

    Q1: A

    Tony Sparano authored an outstanding opening drive, mixing three runs and five passes to keep the Steelers off balance.  His play calling remains aggressive.

    The Jets used four different tight ends on their opening drive to help compensate for the loss of Dustin Keller.  

    There were no crucial decisions to be made in the opening quarter.