It only took five games, but the Pittsburgh Steelers finally put it all together and got their first victory of the year. The Steelers traveled to New Jersey and beat the New York Jets 19-6 on the arm of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and a dominant effort by the Steelers defense.
It's hard to say if this is a trend or not, but subtle changes on both sides of the football really seemed to pay off for the Steelers.
Here are some of quick takeaways from the Steelers' win.
All stats provided by ESPN.com.
Injuries are once again the watch word for the Steelers. Even before the game could get started, the broadcast crew announced that the Steelers lost brand new starting tackle Levi Brown with a triceps injury.
The Steelers traded for Brown to try to bolster the offensive line, but at this point it is very much up in the air as to his status going forward. On this day, the Steelers offensive line really stepped up against an aggressive Jets front in spite of being short-handed.
The Steelers did a nice job of getting pressure on Jets quarterback Geno Smith all day. They did it by loading up the left side and forcing the Jets offensive line to work against linebackers LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons.
The Steelers defense also did a nice job showing blitz and dropping, creating confusion among the Jets offensive line. There's still plenty of room for improvement in terms of aggression, but this week, they went with what worked.
The future of the Steelers' run game is pretty clear, and it is rookie running back Le'Veon Bell. Now, this isn't about Bell having a big day running the football. It was quite the contrary. Bell only finished with 34 yards on the ground.
But what happened was the Steelers were able to commit to the run game, for better or worse, for the entirety of the contest. It made the play-action passing game so much more effective and forced the Jets to play a single deep safety and, at times, no deep safety for a good chunk of the game. The threat of the run is sometimes as beneficial as the run itself.
It is pretty clear watching the Steelers play that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is trying to do his best to work with and within Todd Haley's offensive system. There are times that it is obvious what Roethlisberger wants to do is not what the coaches want him to do.
Nevertheless, Roethlisberger just keeps making throws. Even with a makeshift offensive line, Roethlisberger made all the plays and is on pace for a career year. Roethlisberger is averaging 299 yards passing per game and is on pace for 4,784 yards on the season.
When the Steelers chose to keep wide receiver Antonio Brown and let Mike Wallace leave via free agency, their futures were going to be linked in terms of whether or not the Steelers made a mistake.
Nevertheless, this week, Brown proved once again that the Steelers selected the right wide receiver. Brown ended up with 86 more receiving yards and nine more catches. This gives the speedy fourth-year receiver 41 catches on the year, putting him on pace for 126 catches on the season.
Both sides of the football for the Steelers should be applauded for today's effort. Not only did the Steelers offense not give up a turnover, but the defense forced two turnovers.
This is a huge change over the previous four games, where the Steelers have been minus-11 in turnover ratio. For the offense, it came down to great throws by Roethlisberger and ball security by the backs.
For the defense, it was all about the pressure up front. On both interceptions, the Steelers were in Smith's face and hitting the young quarterback.
It cannot be understated just how good kicker Shaun Suisham was on Sunday and how good he has been all year. Suisham hit all four of his field-goal tries Sunday, including a 48-yard attempt, and also chipped in with an extra point after the Steelers' only touchdown.
On the season, Suisham has hit all 10 of his field-goal tries and all eight of his extra-point attempts. Suisham has been a picture of consistency and efficiency all year long, and in a close game, Suisham was the difference.
With a win, and a loss by both the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns, there is still hope for the Steelers. However, even with the win, the Steelers are staring up at a Cincinnati Bengals team this is 4-2 and in command of the AFC North.
It is impossible to speculate on the mindset of the Steelers at this point. To a man, you obviously don't ever let up and try to win every game. Nonetheless, the question is what are the goals of the team going forward. Can they win out and go 12-4, or is the season as much about evaluating the players on the roster as the final outcome of the games?