Steelers vs. Jets: Full Roster Report Card Grades for New York
After suffering their third loss of the season on Sunday, bringing their record to 3-3, the Jets once again find themselves back in the realm of mediocrity.
The defense was not as stingy as usual, but no team is going to win an NFL game by only scoring six points. Two brutal interceptions by quarterback Geno Smith killed the Jets' most promising drives of the game, giving them no chance to beat a previously 0-4 Steelers team.
Here are this week's roster grades for every position.
Geno Smith: C-
Geno Smith's up-and-down season continues, as he followed up his best game as a Jet last week with a six-point outing at home on Sunday.
The Jets went with a different approach to start the game, deciding to stick with a run-heavy game plan. While it prevented Smith from making any big mistakes, it did not give him many opportunities to make plays either.
When the Jets started to pass more in the second half, Smith was able to move the ball relatively well with quality throws. However, all of the good he did was erased by two brutal interceptions—both within the Pittsburgh 5-yard line—that wound up being the difference in the game.
In Smith's defense, his pass protection was lackluster, and he was without two of his favorite targets, Santonio Holmes and Kellen Winslow. Plus, Smith is hardly the only rookie quarterback to struggle against a Dick LeBeau defense, but he still posted just a 48.8 quarterback rating.
Smith needs to be more careful with the ball, particularly in the red zone.
Bilal Powell: C+
It wasn't Powell's most effective day running with the ball (3.3 yards per carry on nine carries), but he did contribute with a trio of receptions that added another 30 yards to his total.
With Mike Goodson suffering a potentially-serious injury (according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News), Powell will likely have to revert to his heavy workload that he flourished with earlier in the season.
Chris Ivory: B-
Ivory has yet to seize a large portion of the carries, but he does continue to look healthier with each passing week. He had just four carries on Sunday, but he averaged 4.0 yards per carry.
If Ivory continues to be this efficient, the Jets would be able to absorb losing Goodson for an extended period without seeing a huge drop in productivity.
Mike Goodson: B
He had 29 yards on just four carries (a 7.3 average), included a huge 18-yard gain.
However, the buzz around Goodson may be short-lived, as he suffered a leg injury while making a tackle on an interception and wasn't able to return. The Jets do have other running backs that they can rely on, but they will miss Goodson's burst and speed as long as he is out.
Stephen Hill: C+
Hill had a quiet afternoon with just three catches, but he deserves a ton of credit for absorbing a brutal hit from Troy Polomalu without losing the ball on a crucial late-half catch to set up a field goal attempt.
Hill's quiet day was not all his fault, though, as he blew by the Steelers' defense on at least one occasion. Unfortunately, Geno Smith overthrew him.
Jeremy Kerley: C-
This was a quiet day for Kerley, who only had two catches for 19 yards.
Without Kellen Winslow or Santonio Holmes in the lineup, the Steelers were able to take away one of Geno's favorite targets over the middle.
Clyde Gates: B
Clyde Gates wound up leading the Jets in receptions, reeling in five catches. Many of these catches came on a late-half drive that set up a field goal.
The Jets clearly missed Santonio Holmes, but Gates was about as productive as you could expect from a No. 4 wide receiver.
David Nelson: C
Nelson had just one catch for 11 yards on his only target of the game. He may not be a dynamic threat in the passing game, but he was used often as a blocker, playing close to the formation in the run game.
Also, it was only his second game in a Jets uniform, so expectations for Nelson should be low.
Jeff Cumberland: B+
Cumberland was able to put up a solid performance without Kellen Winslow in the mix, making four catches for a team-leading 59 yards. Particularly, he did a great job of creating yards after the catch, breaking tackles and using his speed to get extra yards.
Konrad Reuland: C-
Reuland was a clear downgrade from Kellen Winslow. He finished with no catches, despite being targeted twice.
Pass Protection: C-
The Jets' usually solid pass protection had an "off" day, as the Steelers pass-rushers were able to capitalize on the fact that they finally had a lead to work with.
Geno Smith was sacked four times. He was hurried on several of his throws, including on the play during which the game-ending interception in the red zone was thrown.
A few of the sacks and hurries were Smith's own fault, though, because he was holding the ball for too long. Regardless, there were too many breakdowns in protection for the Jets to sustain a successful offense.
Run Blocking: B-
The Jets went with a run-first approach to start the game, which yielded some success, and they finished the game with a combined 4.2 yards per carry average between all of their runners.
However, they were forced to abandon the run game in the second half, as the two-score deficit gave the Jets no time to run the balanced attack they planned on implementing.
They finished the game with 83 total rushing yards.
Damon Harrison: A
Another week, another dominant performance by one of the best run-stoppers in the NFL.
All of the Steelers' runners were held to just 2.8 yards per carry. Harrison also had a huge tackle-for-loss in the red zone that helped hold the Steelers to a field goal on a crucial fourth-quarter drive.
Kenrick Ellis: B
Kenrick Ellis got a bit more playing time than usual, as he actually started the game.
He did not make the splash play that Harrison made, but he was a significant part of the Jets' stingy run defense that did not give the Steelers any room all afternoon.
Muhammad Wilkerson: A-
Wilkerson was the Jets' best defender (which is expected), standing out as the only real pass-rushing threat on the team.
He recorded a sack and a quarterback hit—although one of those hits should have been a sack for a safety, but Ben Roethlisberger was able to shake him off.
Sheldon Richardson: B-
Richardson had a solid game against the run with six tackles (including one for a loss), but he was underwhelming as a pass-rusher. He generated little pressure and only recorded one quarterback hit.
Against a weak Steelers' offensive line that was playing a lot of backups, this was a chance for Richardson to have a breakout day—but it never materialized.
Leger Douzable: B+
Douzable is the forgotten man along the defensive line because of the star power in front of him, but he had a very strong game considering his limited playing time.
Douzable recorded a half-sack (that could have been a full-sack had Calvin Pace not piled on), and he also recorded another quarterback hit.
David Harris: A
Harris was his usual dominant self in the run game, amassing 10 tackles, including six solo tackles and one for a loss.
He also recorded a sack and a quarterback hurry while blitzing.
Demario Davis: B
Demario Davis had a solid game against the run with six tackles of his own, but he was picked on in coverage a bit by Heath Miller.
Two weeks in a row, the Jets have been victimized by tight ends, and Davis is at least partly responsible.
Calvin Pace: B-
Despite the underwhelming pass rush, Pace was still able to record a half-sack on Ben Roethlisberger.
He did a nice job setting the edge in the run game as well, as none of the Steelers' running backs were able to generate any big plays on cutback lanes.
Quinton Coples: C-
Coples is clearly still not 100 percent, as he made little impact in this game. Only able to produce one quarterback hit, Coples is mostly responsible for the largely underwhelming pass rush on Sunday.
He did not record a tackle, but he does deserve credit for setting the edge on his side and preventing any big outside runs.
Garrett McIntyre: B
McIntyre was the best pass-rushing linebacker on the day, getting a big sack in the first half to stall a promising drive for the Steelers.
With five tackles, he outplayed Coples in every aspect of the game.
Antonio Cromartie: D
This was arguably Cromartie's worst game in his four years as a New York Jet. He was clearly not playing at 100 percent because of a hyperextended knee that he suffered in practice on Thursday, and the Steelers took advantage of it.
Cromartie was picked on all afternoon, as he surrendered the game's only touchdown on a long 55-yard bomb to Emmanuel Sanders. Cromartie was not turning nearly as fast as he needed to and did not show the elite comeback speed that has bailed him out so many times before.
He nearly let up another touchdown to Antonio Brown, but Brown dropped an easy catch.
Cromartie should get better with time, as his leg continues to heal, but he may have been better off sitting this game out.
Darrin Walls: B
While the Steelers attacked Cromartie, Walls held up well on his side of the field. He did give up a few completions to Antonio Brown, but so do a lot of quality cornerbacks.
After a rough debut in Week 4 against the Titans, Walls has proven that he is a capable starter opposite Cromartie.
Kyle Wilson: B
Wilson has actually played solid football over the past couple of weeks, and he has been making a lot of tackles in the run game.
Isaiah Trufant: B
Trufant replaced Wilson in the slot with positive results.
He did not let up many completions, despite being in coverage against Antonio Brown on several occasions.
Dawan Landry: C+
Dawan has a strong day playing up against the run with eight tackles (including one for a loss), but he allowed too many completions to tight end Heath Miller. Miller was targeted seven times, and he caught all but one of them.
Antonio Allen: B
Allen was back in the starting lineup this week, suggesting that last week's mysterious demotion was due to a matchup situation as opposed to his play.
While Allen did give up some completions to Miller, he also made a big stop to prevent Miller from getting a key first down, which is not an easy task to do against a man as big as Miller.
Allen was an active blitzer and covered in the slot fairly well, too.
Jaiquawn Jarrett: C
Jarret was demoted back to his usual rotational role, and he recorded just one tackle.
Nick Folk: A-
Nick Folk's perfect season continues, as he hit both of his field goals to account for all of the Jets' points.
However, he does get a minus for allowing two returns on three of his kickoffs.
Ryan Quigley: B+
Quigley had a busy day, punting seven times.
He pinned two inside the 20, but he did get a touchback on one of them. He did have a few long punts, however, with a long of 53 yards.
Most impressively, his punts only let the dangerous Antonio Brown get 11 yards on two returns.