Steel Curtain Call for Wingless Jets : A Breakdown of What Went Wrong
The Jets-Steelers game was the more anticipated game this week as both teams squared off for the AFC crown. This week's matchup featured lots of talk about how each team would handle the other.
The airwaves were filled with debates on which receiver D. Revis should key in on if anyone, with most picking to shut down Wallace. There was also the talk of how Mark Sanchez was handling his role as a second year QB in New York. Rex stated in an interview he doesn't think Sanchez really understands where he is as the Jets are in back-to-back AFC championship games.
The Steelers were questioned mostly this week about their weakest link in their offensive line and how it would play with Revis looming around. Troy Polamalu was also questionable going into this game, with his presence on the defense more promising of a win with him involved.
1st Half Run Game
The Steelers got off to a quick start as Rashard Mendenhall proved his running ability quick and often. Every play seemed to be another fight for an inch as Mendenhall twisted, dove and powered through for an extra yard. In the first series, he was able to come up big as he was stuffed at the goal line but managed to extend his arms for a TD.
Big Ben even proved he could run after Heath Millers' dropped pass. Calvin Pace's knee hit Ben in the thigh resulting in him limping to the huddle. The booth challenged the call, which gave him time to stretch, thus, resulting in a 12-yard gain on 3rd-and-12. Toward the end of the first half, he was also able to run into the end zone himself untouched.
I. Redman also contributed as a potent spell back while Mendenhall rested on the sideline.
Heath Miller also was great in run game as he played until the whistle, managing to pancake a defender into the end zone. The Result : a roar of HEATH! from the fans.
* M. Pouncey was hurt on the first goal line stand with an injured ankle. He was carted away and listed as questionable for a return.
The Jets however started slow and in the backfield, as L. Tomlinson started mostly on the bench. The Jets were unable to get the run game going and more pressure was put on M. Sanchez to convert on third downs. The total amount of rushing yards after the first half were one yard for the Jets and the Steelers 129 yards.
1st Half Passing Game
The passing game was a different story however.
The Jets were able to get a few passes as Cotchery caught the Majority of them but was limited to the number of YAC's accumulated. A total of four passes were deflected, mostly on third down conversions where Sanchez was often facing long yardage for a first.
The Steelers were more effective in their pass game as Ben was able to find Sanders, Miller and Ward as Wallace was effectively shut down by Revis.
A questionable call came early in the game as Miller appeared to have possession of the ball. Ed Hochuli ruled the ball incomplete as it touched the ground without possession. Later in the drive, Ben was able to throw between defenders accurately to Ward to get the ball to the 1-yard line.
Ben did not have a steller first half as he threw an interception, but it wasn't entirely his fault. Ben threw a screen to Mendenhall which was thrown too early, thus resulting in a tip of Mendenhall's hand resulting in a pick from Brian Thomas.
His screens were effective however as Mendenhall dominated the first half.
Defense and Penalties
The Steelers defense lived up to everything it is known for as it stuffed the Jets running game early and quickly into the backfield in the first half.
To answer, the Jets began to rely more on the arm of Mark Sanchez, yet the Steelers showed how complete of a defense they were. Effectively deflecting four passes in the first half and causing a major turnover in the few minutes remaining. Suisham managed to give the Jets position on the 40-yard line after a bad kick off, but the Jets were unable to capitalize and were forced to punt at 3-and-out.
On an outside corner blitz, Ike Taylor ran in to force a fumble which was scooped up by W.Gay for a touch down. Thus leaving the score at 24-0 with less than a minute to go. The Jets did leave the half with a 42 yard field goal.
The Jets Defense had one shining star. Revis shut down Mike Wallace dropping a sure interception on a Wallace streak. The defense was porous as Mendenhall clawed his way into extra yards on every almost every possession. On a Mendenhall screen, the defense hesitated from a false start which allowed him to run for a gain of 20 yards.
Penalties also continued to plague the Jets as they continued to defeat themselves as they lost yardage.
2nd Half Revival
The Jets came out hungry for points in the second half. My guess is that someone told them they were playing with no do overs. They began with a five-play drive with back-to-back receptions by Santonio Holmes with a 45-yard touchdown pass. Something that began a spark in the Jets comeback for the AFC trophy.
The Running Game in the 2nd Half
Shonn Green ran 23 yards on his first run into his own sideline. Ziggy hood forced him out, and it appeared Shonn was seriously injured, but he returned shortly after. Tomlinson continued to be stagnant in the third quarter.
Sanchez ran the ball himself, but it wasn't the main focus, just producing on broken plays.
Greene saw a bit more action as LT proved his case of a playoff choke once again. Cotchery ran the ball as well on end around plays but wasn't much help. With eight minutes left, on 4th-and-1, Shonn got his number called but was stuffed.
Mendenhall contniued to produce, reaching the 100+ yard mark.
Sanchez caught a bit of fire in the third quarter, connecting with Santonio to kick off the quarter. He also hooked up with Brad Smith as Cotchery sat out for a bit.
In the fourth quarter, Sanchez was able to squeeze one to Keller open in the end zone with eight minutes left but dropped the sure reception. The next pass was deflected forcing a fourth down conversion.
Sanchez picked up the pieces later in the fourth quarter attempting a pass on 4th-and-1 achieving a first down and continuing to press the defense with a hurry up offense. He wasn't however communicating well enough as his offense was slow to the next plays. He did however throw a clean pass to Cotchery as Ike Taylor managed to run into his own teammate blowing his coverage.
The Steelers saw a bit of mishaps in the third quarter as Ben threw another pick to Pool. Ben could rest easy as his team entered the fourth quarter with a 14-point lead, but being below 50 percent in completions with two interceptions is not something your superstar quarterback should have. Ben also fumbled on a bad snap from backup center Legursky resulting in a safety.
Where Was the Defense Until Now
The Steelers defense picked up where the Jets left off, allowing Santonio to score early on a broken route for a 45-yard score.
The Jets finally picked up some sacks going into the fourth quarter and a bit of Roethlisberger's name as it was being ripped off his Jersey.
The Jets were also able to keep the Steelers offense from scoring points in the third quarter coming up big to give their offense more opportunities.
In the fourth Quarter, after a failed 4th-and-1 run, the Jets were able to pick up the loose ball from a bad snap convert it into a safety. Pouncey was not in on the play. Is this gonna be the comeback game of the year???
The Last 3 Minutes
The Jets scored a touchdown with three minutes to go as Cotchery ran uncovered into the end zone.
Going into kickoff team the Jets had a choice to have a normal return or try the onside kick. They chose the latter hoping to shut down the offense like they had for the entire 2nd half.
The Defense were able to force the Steelers into a 3rd-and-6 going into the two-minute warning. This next play would decide everything.
Roethlisberger was indeed pulling his trademark stunt,running around not pulling the pin. Ben made his reads in the pocket ultimately booting out to the right. He continued to look for an open man with defensive pressure closing in. As the play unfold Antonio Brown broke free of coverage to catch the game saving ball to send the Steelers into the Super bowl.
The games final score