Jets vs Steelers: 10 Reasons The New York Jets Can't Get To The Super Bowl
For he second straight year, Rex Ryan's New York Jets watched as another team celebrated its berth in the Super Bowl.
Last season, they watched as confetti covered the Indianapolis Colts and their fans in celebration and this year, it was the Steelers who celebrated their Super Bowl berth with a 24 - 19 win over New York.
Here is where it all went wrong for the Jets...
10. The Jets Were In Trouble Before Sunday's Game Even Started
Al Bello/Getty Images
The Jets in many ways lost their best shot to head for the Super Bowl with December's Monday Night Football loss to New England.
Sure, the Jets exorcised some demons in many ways by their improbable win over New England in the playoffs, but in many ways the 45 - 3 embarrassment had an impact on Sunday.
First, it all but sealed the division title for the Patriots. The Jets then were forced to try to win three playoff games, on the road, against division champions to go to the Super Bowl. That is a near impossible road.
It would be much easier to win a game of this magnitude in your own building.
Second, the New England game took a lot out of the Jets. In many ways, that was the Jets' Super Bowl, to try to ramp it up again, even for a shot at a Super Bowl berth is very difficult.
9. Third Down Defense
Nick Laham/Getty Images
For a good defense, the third down defense was attrocious.
There are many reasons for that not the least of which is lack of a pass rush.
Shaun Ellis, Jason Taylor and Trevor Pryce gave it all they had, but those guys are aging veterans with their best pass-rushing days behind them.
Losing Kris Jenkins was more of a blow than it seemed like it was as the season wore on.
Jenkins provided a pass-rush up the middle in the way that Heloti Ngata provides for the Ravens defense.
The Jets did a good job masking this flaw for most of the season, but in the season's biggest moments, the defensive unit struggled on third down.
The first drive of the game the Steelers converted third downs three times, including a 3rd and 12 on a Roethlisberger scramble.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Specific to this game, and at times all season long, tackling has been an issue for the Jets,
Particularly on the first drive, but throughout the first half, the Jets have struggled tackling in the open field. Rashard Mendenhall tore up the Jets' defense all first-half long.
Linebacker play was supposed to be a strength for the Jets with Bart Scott, David Harris, Calvin Pace, and Bryan Thomas, but the unit really didn't have a great year making plays at or behind the line of scrimmage - a hallmark of a good defense.
The officiating didn't help on Sunday, refusing to call a holding penalty on the Steelers all day, but the tackling still has to be better if the Jets want to get over the hump.
7. Making The Big Play On Defense
The Jets' defense was really a "bend, but don't break" unit all year.
They did a decent job holding opposing offenses to low point totals and allowing the offense to score enough to win.
However, this was not a feared defense.
Opponents didn't worry about throwing the ball like you might worry about throwing at a defense like the Steelers who feature a player like Troy Polomalu who is capable of turning a mistake into six points.
On Sunday, Kyle Wilson, David Harris, and the great Darrelle Revis had interceptions on their hands and let the ball fall to the turf each time.
Ironically, the Jets best defensive play-making day came on the final day of the season when the Jets rested their regulars. In that game, backup CB Marquice Cole took an interception into the end-zone, and the defense picked off Bills' quarterbacks four times.
6. The Coinflip
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
When Rex Ryan wins the toss, he defers to the second half. The result? The Jets have allowed their opponents to score first in all six playoff games in the Rex Ryan era.
The opening drive set the tone on Sunday.
5. Sanchez's Slow Starts
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Mark Sanchez is on his way to becoming a great quarterback.
He is a winner, he plays well in the playoffs, and is starting to become a play-maker at the position in just his second year in the league.
That being said, the problem for Sanchez has been slow starts. Although the defense struggled early on Sunday, it was the slow start on offense that had a hand in putting the Jets in the hole early.
4. Inconsistency On Special Teams
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
At times, the now retiring special teams coach, Mike Westhoff's units have been fabulous, but on Sunday, they came up short.
The kicking and punting game struggled in the playoffs, and decision-making and execution killed the Jets on Sunday.
First, going after a punt on 4th and less than 5 is risky business. The Jets were flagged for a questionable penalty going after the punt which extended a Steelers' drive.
Though the drive ended on an interception, it set the Jets back in terms of field position, deep in their own territory.
When the Jets had an opportunity to try an onside kick, they instead tried to take advantage of the Steelers' return formation by kicking it deep.
The kick by Folk was not executed well, and the Steelers were set up with decent field position.
Injuries to Brad Smith killed the Jets' return game - a huge part of their success in terms of scoring and gaining field position.
Their kick return game has not been the same since Smith has been banged up.
3. Lack Of Big Plays In The Running Game
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Though Tomlinson and Shonn Greene were effective runners this season, the lack of a homerun threat hurt the Jets.
Tomlinson's longest run for the season was 31 yards, and Greene took one 23 yards - neither went for a touchdown.
The Jets had a homerun threat with Leon Washington, but dealt him to Seattle at the draft. Joe McKnight was supposed to replace that breakaway speed, but the rookie struggled early and wasn't trusted in the playoffs.
2. 17-0, Sanchez Facing 3rd and 17
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Dick Lebeau lives for these situations.
Instead of playing it safe with a run and then punting the football, the Jets tried to throw it on 3rd and a mile.
Lebeau called the perfect blitz, Ike Taylor came free, stripped Mark Sanchez, and the William Gay returned it for a dagger of a touchdown.
Though the Jets would mount a furious comeback, that play provided a 24-0 deficit, too much for the jets to overcome.
1. Their Team's History
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The lack of a Super Bowl appearance since Joe Namath brought the Jets to the championship is weighing on this franchise.
When Herm Edwards coached the Jets, he always talked about "slaying demons". Facing the media after a win, he once remarked that the Jets were slaying some sort of ghost every time his team won a football game.
Rex Ryan admitted in his day after press conference that the Jets wanted this game for his team, their fans, and to slay that "Same Old Jets" moniker.
The head coach is very aware of the "Same Old Jets" feeling among Jets' fans, and has more than once said the three words in a derisive way after big Jets' wins.
There is no question that this team is playing with more weight on its shoulders than it needs to bear when it is playing these games.