At first glance, the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets are two teams that share little history. They’ve only played 25 times. For comparison’s sake, the Steelers and Saints have played 17 times.
- For the record, the Steelers own a 20-5 advantage over the Jets, 10-1 at home and 10-4 in New York
What the Steelers and Jets history might lack in quantity is made up in quality. Many meetings between these two teams have been steeped in significance, although that fact wasn’t always eveident at the time.
Click on the links below or scroll down to relive some of the key moments in Steelers-Jets History.
Jerome Bettis hurdles guard Alan Faneca evading Dewayne Robertson in the Steelers 2004 AFC Divisional playoff win. Photo Credit: Matt Freed, Post-Gazette
1969 – Super Bowl III, The Most Important Steelers Game in History – Not Involving the Steelers?
“I Guarantee Victory” – Joe Namath, prior to Super Bowl III
You know the story. The NFL and AFL were merging, and the brash young quarterback of the upstart New York Jets guaranteed victory despite being an 18 point underdog.
The Jets took an early lead, Don Shula of course waited too long to put Johnny Unitas in, and the biggest upset in Super Bowl history was on.
On the Colts sidelines that day was a young assistant named Charles Henry Noll. Who knows what happens if the Colts win? Does the added notoriety lead to a better offer for Chuck Noll? Does perhaps stick around hoping to repeat? We’ll never know. One thing we do know is this:
- Noll learned that the Colts were too tense prior to Super Bowl III felt it cost them the game.
Chuck Noll avoided the same mistakes when he led the Steelers to Super Bowl IX. The rest, as we say, is history.
1983 – The End of Eras
December 10, 1983, Shea Stadium
Pittsburgh 34, New York 7
A moment far more bitter than sweet for Steelers fans. The Steelers snapped a three game losing streak, but the price, as Myron Cope would write a decade later, was “the last throws that were left in Terry Bradshaw’s arm.”
Bradshaw opened with a pass touchdown pass to Gregg Garrity and followed with another touchdown pass to Calvin Sweeney. And that was it.
- Not just for the game. Not just for the season. But forever.
It was the last NFL game at Shea Stadium. It was the last pass of the last game of Terry Bradshaw’s career. It was the last time the remnants of the Super Steelers would ever contend.
Too many eras ended that day.
1988 – So Far, Yet So Close
October 10, 1988, Giants Stadium
New York 24, Pittsburgh 20
The 1988 Steelers had started 1-6, but on the previous week, led by Rodney Carter, Gary Anderson and Rod Woodson, the Steelers had thumped the Broncos to snap a six game losing streak. Could Chuck Noll’s boys make it two in a row?
The Steelers jumped to a 10-0 lead but, as was the case many times during the 1988 season, the Steelers saw that lead evaporate in the second half.
1989 – The Shadow (and Promise) of Things to Come
December 10, 1989, Giants Stadium
Pittsburgh 13, Jets 0
Steel Curtain Rising discussed this Steelers-Jet’s match up in the tribute to the 1989 Steelers, celebrating Greg Lloyd’s announcement to the NFL that he was a force to be reckoned with, as he knocked Pat Ryan out of the game, caught an interception, and WWE-style three counted a concussed Al Toon.
Greg Lloyd. Photo Credit: Getty Images, via Zimbo.com
- Jet’s fans jeered “Joe Must Go!” calling for their coaches head. Joe did go.
Unfortunately he arrived in Pittsburgh; hiring Joe Walton became Chuck Noll’s fateful mistake.
1990 – IF Only this Could Have Been a Divisional Game…
November 25, 1990, Giants Stadium
Pittsburgh 24, Jets 7
This victory was sandwiched in between losses to the Cincinnati Bengals. The 1990 Steelers would finish 9-7. Unfortunately, only one of those victories came against an AFC Central team.
One more divisional win would have put the Steelers into the playoffs….
1992 – Cowher Power’s Second Victory – Barry “Bananas” Foster Romps
September 13, 1992, Three Rivers Stadium
Pittsburgh 27, New York 10
Rookie head coach Bill Cowher’s Steelers shocked the NFL in defeating the Oilers the week before. Chris Berman remained unconvinced, predicting that Brownie Nagel would lead the Jets to victory.
- Barry Foster had other ideas, as he ran for a then team record 190 yards.
The Steelers revival under Bill Cowher was was on!
2000 – Vinny Testaverde – New Uniform, Same Result
October 8, 2000, Giants Stadium
Pittsburgh 23, New York 3
The Steelers had tormented Vinny Testaverde in Tampa, Cleveland, and Baltimore. Would things be different in New York?
Afraid not. One week after upsetting the Jacksonville Jaguars in a game that set the tone for a decade, the Steelers showed they were for real. The Steelers did not intercept Testaverde because he got only one pass off before getting knocked out of the game.
2001 – Hines Ward’s First 10 Catch, 100 Yard Game
December 6, 2001, Heinz Field
Pittsburgh 18, New York 7
It is hard to believe that the Steelers had one of the NFL’s best-kept secrets and it is hard to believe that his name is Hines Ward. The previous week the Steelers had lost Jerome Bettis, who had been dominating the league in rushing, and were in need of leadership.
Hines Ward delivered posting his first 10 catch game while breaking the 100 yard barrier for the first time.
2003 – 40 Passes, in the Snow….?
December 14, 2003, Giants Stadium
New York 6, Pittsburgh 0
Ok, it was 38 passes not 40, but the Meadowlands are a difficult place to throw in December, let alone in a blinding snow storm. That didn’t stop Mike Mularkey from throwing the ball, which did stop the Steelers from winning.
During the next draft that proved to be one of Kevin Colbert’s wiser non-decisions
Jerome Bettis broke Franco Harris record that day, causing Mike Prisuta to plead for the Steelers to part ways with the Bus. 1,309 yards and 22 touchdowns and a Super Bowl later, Bettis would prove Prisuta wrong.
2004 – Regular Season – Rookie Roethlisberger’s 11th Victory
December 12, 2004, Heinz Field
Pittsburgh 17, New York 6
The Jet’s played this one closer than the score might indicate, as Curtis Martin crossed the 13,000 yard barrier, marking the first time that 13,000 rushers faced off against each other.
Rookie Ben Roethlisberger won his 11th consecutive game, in route to setting the rookie record.
2004 Playoffs – Steelers Football at Its Best: Pure Power Rushing Carries the Day
January 15, 2005, Heinz Field
Pittsburgh 20, New York 17
People remember this as the game where Ben Roethlisberger started playing like a rookie. They remember it for the Jet’s Doug O’Brien missing 2 field goals that cost his team the game. But the real beauty of the game was the effort put forth by the Steelers running back crops.
- Jerome Bettis ran 27 times 101 yards and a TD
- Duce Staley ran 11 times for 54 yards
That might not be an overwhelming total, but both backs had to come out due to injuries at critical times, and the Steelers ability to beat the Jets into submission with two power rushers was a sight to remember.
2007 – Tomlin’s First True “Trap” Game?
November 18, 2007, Giants Stadium
New York 19, Pittsburgh 16
During Mike Tomlin’s rookie season the knock on him was that his Steelers “played down to the competition.” No where was this more apparent than against the Jets. New York was 1-9 in route to 4-12, but the Steelers struggled all day, as Bob Ligashesky’s special teams gave up a 33 yard punt return that allowed the Jets to send the game into overtime where they won by a field goal.
2010 – Jets Out Fox Steelers
December 19th, 2010, Heinz Field
New York 22, Pittsburgh 17
The New York Jets stumbled into this game and seemed prime for the picking. However, Al Everett’s special teams, which had been a strength all season long, gave up a touchdown on the opening kickoff. The Steelers fought back with a workman like performance and tied the game at the half.
- But the miscues continued in the 2nd half.
First Mark Sanchez scored on a 7 yard bootleg after the rest of the Jets offense executed a perfect play fake up the middle. Then Sanchez faked a perfect drop back while LaDainian Tomlinson took a direct snap that converted a third down and burned previous time off of the clock. Rex Ryan’s Jets outfoxed the Steelers.
Finally, when the Steelers were trying to mount a come back Jason Taylor ran unblocked on a tackle of Mewelde Moore, giving the Jets a safety at the 2:38 moment.
2010 AFC Championship – Steelers Defeat Jets, Head to Super Bowl XLV
Sunday January 23rd, 2011, Heinz Field
Pittsburgh 24, New York 19
It was a tail of two halves. During the game’s first 3 minutes, the Pittsburgh Steelers played two of the best quarters of football in franchise playoff history. Running back Rashard Mendenhall took over the game in the first half, running for 97 of his 120 yards during the game’s first 3 minutes.
Rashard Mendenhall had a career game vs the Jets. Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus, Getty Images via ESPN
Ben Roethlisberger capped off the Steelers offense’s scoring run at the 2:00 warning of the first half, putting the Steelers up 17-0. 47 seconds later, Ike Taylor strip-sacked Mark Sanchez and William Gay recovered the ball and put the Steelers up 24-0.
The Jets, to their credit, managed to get on the board with a field goal before the half, but it only appeared to be window dressing at the time…
- Except it wasn’t. That Nick Folk field goal sparked a 19 point New York rally.
In the second half, New York harassed Ben Roethlisberger relentlessly, and shut down Rashard Mendenhall. On offense a 45 yard strike to Santonio Holmes started the scoring for the Jets, followed by a safety and a Jerricho Cotchery scored in the bottom half of the 4th quarter.
- Unfortunately for the Jets, the safety was set up by a failed 4th and goal attempt at the 1.
Those two series gave New York 9 points when it needed 14, and left Pittsburgh with the ball with 2:56 left to play. That series saw Ben Roethlisberger connect on his first two consecutive passes of the afternoon, first hooking up with Heath Miller for 14 yards on 2nd and 9 and then hitting rookie Antonio Brown for 14 on 3rd and 6.
Going into the game, Peter King had profiled how Rex Ryan had implored his General Manager to get him the players he needed to get past the Colts and Patriots in the playoffs. Rex Ryan fulfilled his goal, and so did the Steelers who were AFC Champions and off to Super Bowl XLV.
2012 – Steelers Workman Like Effort Rebounds from Opening Day Loss
September 16th, 2012, Heinz Field
Pittsburgh 27, New York 10
The Steelers had open the 2012 season severing as fodder for Peyton Manning’s debut with the Broncos in a defeat raised troubling questions about the Steelers defense. And the defense didn’t do much to answer those as the Jets put 10 points on the board quickly while the Steelers offense could only manage two 45 yard Shaun Suisham field goals.
But the Steelers defense kept the Jets off the board for the entire 2nd half, while Ben Roethlisberger led 3 clock consuming drives that ended with Heath Miller, Mike Wallace and Isaac Redman touchdowns.
2013 – Steelers Snap 0-4 Start
October 13, 2013, MetLife Stadium
Pittsburgh 19, New York 6
The Steelers started 2013 by going 0-4, the franchise’s worst start since Bill Austin’s tenure in 1968. Unfortunately, as their game against the Jets began, things looked startlingly familiar as the Steelers lost a player during warm ups, lost tight end David Johnson early on, failed to protect Ben Roethlisberger and started each drive deep in their own territory.
But Brett Keisel and Cam Heyward in his debut as an official starter, helped force Jets to settle for field goals after a long drive. The Steelers then assembled 3 straight Shaun Suisham field goal drives.
Ben Roethlsiberger and Emmanuel Sanders added a touchdown to open the 2nd half, and just when the Jets looked to make it competitive again, Ryan Clark netted the first turn of the season. When the dust settled the Steelers finished with a 19 to 6 victory which, while not impressive, did get Pittsburgh in the win column for the first time in 2013.
2014 – Another Tomlin Team Gets Tripped up in Trap Game
November 9th 2014, MetLife Stadium
New York 20, Pittsburgh 13
Mike Tomlin on Steelers sidelines. Photo Credit: Karl Rosner
The Pittsburgh Steelers ended their two year playoff drought in 2014 but it took and up and down ride to get there. Sure, the Steelers noticed some impressive wins, like the victory over the Ravens in Joe Greene’s Jersey retirement game, but also struggled against inferior teams.
- And the loss to the Jets is probably the best, or worst example of that.
After giving up a field goal on the opening drive, the Steelers could do nothing on their first procession, allowing Mike Vick to hook up with T.J. Graham for a 67 yard touchdown on the Jets next play from scrimmage. Ben Roethlisberger responded by hooking up with Antonio Brown who promptly fumbled away the ball at Pittsburgh’s 21. It only took Mike Vick 6 plays to hook up with Jace Amaro for 5 yards.
- The first quarter wasn’t even over, and the Steelers were down 17 to 0.
Things didn’t get much better for the Steelers, who saw Ben Roethlisberger throw a Red Zone interception on their next possession. The Steelers defense held the Jets to just one field goal on the rest of the day, but Steelers offense could only muster two Shaun Suisham field goals until Ben Roethlisberger hit Martavis Bryant for an 80 yard touchdown with 1:16 left to play.
The 2014 Steelers would rebound for a strong finish to the regular season, but 2014 loss to the Jets counts as one of Mike Tomlin’s worst trap games.
2016 – This Steelers Win over the Jets Came at a Cost
October 9, 2016, at Heinz Field
Pittsburgh 31, Jets 13
The final score makes this game look like a slam dunk for the Steelers, but the truth is that much more up or down event than the naked eye suggests. Nick Folk put the Jets on the board first with a field goal, but Ben Roethlisberger quickly hooked up with Sammie Coates to when he converted a 3rd and 7 with a 72 yard touchdown pass.
However, the New York Jets scored 10 unanswered points and appeared to be set to take a 13-7 lead into the half when they scored a touchdown at the 2:11 mark.
Ben Roethlisberger engineered a masterful 2 minute drill that saw him hit Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Sammie Coates and Xavier Grimble before connecting with Jesse James at the 0:44 mark for the go ahead touchdown.
- The Steelers dominated the second half, shutting the Jets out and scoring two touchdowns.
But victory came with costs. Sammie Coates, who otherwise had a career game with six catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns, needed stitches at half time, and never, ever approached that level of play again. The game also represented the end Markus Wheaton’s season, which set up a Steelers playoff run where Cobi Hamilton and DeMarcus Ayers would become defacto starters.