Pittsburgh Steelers: Are They Vulnerable To Those Trash-Talking Jets?

Tom EdringtonSenior Writer IJanuary 18, 2011

Don't look for any trash talk from Mike Tomlin and the Steelers.
Don't look for any trash talk from Mike Tomlin and the Steelers.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steeler fans watched in shock last week.

For 30 minutes Terrible Towels went limp, the Steelers were limping and the Ravens had them on the ropes in a big way.

Thirty horrible minutes. Thirty minutes made these Men of Steel look so very vulnerable. It was as if the Ravens had kryptonite hidden in their shoulder pads.

It was 21-7 at the half and looking mighty good if you lived in Baltimore.

Momentum's moving van had parked itself right in front of the Ravens bench. It couldn't be going any better, could it?

Momentum, however, is a fickle mistress.

One Ray Rice fumble in the third quarter and the dam began to leak, then suddenly it blew wide open and in the end, Terrible Towels were waving their way into the AFC title game.

Which leads us to the question: Are these Steelers vulnerable to these sixth-seed New York Jets?

They were on Dec. 19. With the game on the line and just 10 seconds to play, Ben Roethlisberger took two shots into the New York end zone and missed both. It was the Jets getting out of Heinz with a 22-17 win, their first ever in Pittsburgh.

Don't look for any trash-talking in New York this week. The Jets fully understand how fortunate they were at the end of that game and Pittsburgh fans will point quickly to the fact that Troy Polamalu wasn't on the field.

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When you take a look at how these teams match up, it's very close.

Running game? Very close. Passing game? Edge to Pittsburgh. Run defense? No clear-cut edge. Passing defense? Slight edge to the Jets. Special teams? A wash.

Add it up and you can flip a coin. The bookies favor Pittsburgh, barely.

What the Jets do need come Sunday is a running game.

"I would try to run it again," said Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark. "They were successful with it. I think if you look at them, they're running the ball to keep other offenses off the field."

"It's going to take everything we have," says Jets linebacker Bart Scott. No trash talk there, just simple fact.

Jets receiver Jericho Cotchery called Pittsburgh "a resilient bunch."

Respect, so far.

And why not?

The Steeler defense commands respect, it lets blunt-force impact do all the talking.

No boasting from Mike Tomlin and what else would you expect from a disciple of Tony Dungy?

New York can watch that first 30 minutes of video and be hopeful.

You can also point to the fact that a lot of leaders at halftime are now on vacation.

Football is, after all, a 60-minute game.

There will be a full 60 minutes on Sunday, maybe even a little overtime, eh?