Grounded: Jets Defeat Steelers 16-10 as Injuries Puncture Pittsburgh’s Playoff Hopes

The Pittsburgh Steelers traveled to New York needing a win (and some help) to clinch a playoff berth. While they got the help they needed, the New York Jets nonetheless grounded the Steelers the tune of 16-10.

  • It was a hard-fought game full of ups and downs, unfortunate twists of fate and surprises.

The loss to the Jets followed the same narrative as it has all season for the Steelers. Although New York provided a new stage, as It has all season long, Injury remained Pittsburgh’s chief antagonist. Similarly, the difference between victory and defeat came down to the Steelers ability to compensate against the ravages of Injury.

James Washington, Marcus Maye, Steelers vs Jets

Marcus Maye breaks up a touchdown pass on James Washington. Photo Credit: Christopher Horner, Tribune-Review

Devlin’s Wounded Ducks Damage Pittsburgh’s Chances

The New York Jets started fast, leaning on  on Le’Veon Bell and a pass interference call against Minkah Fitzpatrick to secure scoring position. From there Sam Darnold threw a picture-perfect pass to Robby Anderson sandwiched between Joe Haden and Terrell Edmunds to put the Jets up by 7 with barely 5 minutes elapsed.

The Steelers offense mixed some short passes and some quality runs to James Conner to get the Steelers going, but 8 plays into Pittsburgh’s first possession Devlin Hodges did something he’s seldom done this year – try a pass over the middle to Vance McDonald – and the Jets intercepted.

  • After trading a couple of punts, the Jets got back on the board again by knocking in a 54 yard field goal at the end of the first quarter.

The Steelers reached the Red Zone on the strength of  more James Conner running, a long pass to Diontae Johnson and a horse collar tackle on James Washington. However, once there Devlin Hodges tried to get the ball over the top of triple coverage on Jaylen Samuels and Marcus Maye intercepted him for his troubles.

With 5 minutes remaining in the 2nd half, the Steelers were down 10-0, a deficit which felt insurmountable.

Tomlin’s Surprise Switch

Perhaps “surprise” is a bit too dramatic. Mike Tomlin never formally named Devlin Hodges as his starter, and his chief criteria justifying the choices he made has been “he didn’t kill us.” Publicly, the Steelers have proceeded as if Devlin Hodges would close the year for the Steelers, even if reliable reporters sent mixed signals about the prospect of a QB change.

  • Two interceptions was enough for Mike Tomlin, sent Mason Rudolph in off of the bench.

It would be poetic to say that Rudolph sparked an immediate rally, but the Steelers first drive with Rudolph ended in a punt after six plays. But Steelers defense got the ball back and Mason Rudolph methodically moved the Steelers from their 14 into field goal range.

Chris Boswell got the Steelers on the board, and the Steelers defense got the ball back. Mason Rudolph hit Diontae Johnson for a 29 yard touchdown pass with 9 seconds remaining in the half.

The Steelers had tied the game by scoring 10 points in the half’s last 2:24. Going into the locker room, its seemed like Mason Rudolph and his Red Nose just might guide the Steelers home tonight….

When Great Defense Isn’t Enough

After the Jacksonville playoff debacle, Art Rooney II he argued that it is “difficult” to play defense in today’s NFL. He is right. The league has regulated the game in almost every way possible to increase both passing and scoring to keep the networks and fantasy owners happy.

Good defense in today’s NFL keeps a team in the game and gives the offense a chance to win it. Great defense in today’s NFL goes a step further giving the offense extra chances to win but securing turnovers. Dominant defense goes to the next level by doing all of the above plus turning the tables by scoring points of its own.

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 defense has been dominant at times.

At other times, it has merely been great. The game against the Jets was one of those occasions. After Chris Boswell’s field goal, the Jets remained aggressive, and tried to score with 1:18 they had left.

  • T.J. Watt made them pay, when he strip sacked Sam Darnold.

As recounted above, the Steelers offense took advantage, and tied the game with a touchdown. In the second half, the Steelers defense limited the Jets to two field goals and forced 3 punts. Bud Dupree’s sack on 3rd and 9 helped force the Jets first field goal, but that was the half’s only splash play by the defense.

Splash plays or not, the Steelers defense held the Jets to two field goals in a second half that began with a 10-10 tie. In normal situations, that’s all you can ask for. But 2019 has been anything but normal for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Steelers Membership in “1 Touchdown a Game Club” Won’t Cut It

Mason Rudolph looked sharp in running 2 two minute drills to end the first half for the Steelers, the second of which ended in a touchdown.

This unfortunately exhausted the “1 touchdown a game” quota that Pittsburgh’s 2019 offense is permitted to produce. The Steelers played the entire second half without James Conner, who with just six carries clearly proved he’s the superior back to Kerrith Whyte and Benny Snell Jr.

  • On their third possession they lost Maurkice Pouncey.
  • Mason Rudolph got sacked/stuffed for a run that lost 5 yards on the next play.
  • Mason Rudolph kept the drive alive for 5 more plays thanks to a smart effort by JuJu Smith-Schuster.
  • But then Mason Rudolph was done for the day.

On the next drive Devlin Hodges did complete a pass for 15 yards. But soon after that he was sacked and then a failed exchange with B.J. Finney aborted a 3rd down conversion attempt. The Steelers next drive netted negative four yards. Their final effort saw James Washington get two hands on a ball in the end zone only to have it pushed away.

The Steelers had another shot, but another botched exchange saw Hodges fumble and fail to connect with JuJu Smith-Schuster. Alas, a second touchdown simply wasn’t in the cards for the Steelers offense at MetLife Stadium.

The Standard is the Standard, But…

After the game, reporters asked Mike Tomlin if losing a running back, a center and a quarterback to injury was too much to overcome. Tomlin balked at the suggestion, reaffirmed that “The Standard is the Standard,” and offered the easy example of the Steelers defense opening the game by giving up by giving up an easy touchdown.

  • Good for Mike Tomlin.

That’s the type of attitude that makes Mike Tomlin one of the best coaches in the NFL. It’s the type of attitude that can squeeze 8 wins out of a practice squad offense. And, he’s right on the merits. Devlin’s close but no cigar touchdown pass to Washington shows that the Steelers could have won.

  • But the truth is only so many rabbits to be pulled out of hats during an NFL season.

An offense that continually loses its top skill players while playing behind an underperforming offensive line can only take an NFL team so far. And that offense has taken the Steelers form controlling their own destiny just one week ago to needing a road victory over the Ravens and help to make the playoffs.

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Pittsburgh Steelers History vs The New York Jets

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, Alan Faneca, Dewayne Robertson, Steelers vs Jets, Steelers history vs Jets

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, Greg Lloyd Steelers Career

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.

Rahsard Mendenhall, Steelers vs Jets, Steelers history vs Jets

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, Steelers vs Jaguars

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.

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4 Random Reflections on 2016 Steelers 4-1 Start + a Shout Out for a Steelers Nation Scribe

he boss is back with 4 random reflections on the 2016 Steelers 4-1 start, plus a shut out for a special Steelers Nation scribe.

Yes, after close to a month on the road my travels have finally brought me back to “home,” namely Buenos Aires, Argentina. One of the great ironies of the global economy is that a month long trip TO the United States kept me from writing about the Steelers, save for a rebuttal of Colin Cowherd’s Mike Tomlin bashing and reflections on Le’Veon Bell’s longevity.

Still, this excurision didn’t result in a full Steelers sabbatical, as followed the news as best I could, while taking in a couple of games on the fly.

2016 steelers 4-1 start, Lawrence Timmons, Artie Burns, Jordan Dangerfield, steelers vs. jets

Jordan Dangerfield, Lawrence Timmons, and Artie Burns gang up on Quincy Enunwa to help 2016 Steelers to 4-1 start. Photo Credit: Chaz Palla, Tribune-Review

1. Stats Mislead in Steelers Victory Over Bengals

The Steelers much anticipated re-match with the Bengals, sans Le’Veon Bell and Vontaze Burfict was easily on of the “Can’t Miss” games when the schedule was announced. Alas, booth set up responsibilities, paired with a corporate event at a baseball game meant there was NO WAY in HELL I was going to see the game.

  • When I finally got to grab lunch at 4:00 pm or so, the headline “Ben Roethlisberger throws 3 touchdowns as Steelers beat Bengals” pleased me.

And of course I thought that Roethlisberger had been on another rampage, similar to the one he led against the Redskins in week 1. Only later did I learn that Ben Roethlisberger had struggled for much of the day, and that the Cincinnati defense has managed to contain Antonio Brown fairly well. A win is a win, but this one reminds you of how misleading stats passed on the ESPN scroll can be.

2. Wife Wins + Steelers Loss = Husband’s Right Call on Philly Game

Week 2 brought my wife’s arrival in the US and by this time I was back in Maryland. And just as fate would have it, the Steelers-Eagles game was on national TV. No need to hike a Steelers bar, giving me my first chance to watch a Steelers game in my home state since 2008 and my first in my parents’ home since, what, 1991?

Ah, but it was a beautiful day, and my wife wanted to hit Georgetown. Good idea.

  • So I relented and slyly taped the Steelers game. Good decision.

Have the Pittsburgh Steelers ever performed so perfectly piss poorly as they did against Philadelphia during the Mike Tomlin era? Perhaps. The 2011 opening day Debacle at Baltimore would make as strong candidate. Outside of that you’d have to really search. The game started with a dropped touchdown pass followed by a blocked field goal. And things got worse from there.

In other words, it was the perfect time to take your wife down to Georgetown to do some shopping and site seeing.

3. Camerony Heyward, Steelers Clobber Kansas City

At some point we’ll have do a “Steelers history vs.” article on the Kansas City Chiefs, because those games often reveal a lot. But for now the Steelers Sunday Night Football victory over the Chiefs will remain something to relish.

Fortunately, I did get to see this one, and a shout out goes to Andrew Kipp who recommended the venue:

The Reservoir did turn out to be a good place to see the Steelers play. OK, it wasn’t the Purple Goose Saloon, but let’s not kid ourselves – they don’t make Steelers Bars like the Goose anymore. But the prices were great, there were plenty of TV’s to watch on, and the Steelers fans were friendly.

Most importantly, the Steelers bounced back from an ugly loss, and it was nice to see Jarvis Jones make a splash play and Markus Wheaton bounce back from a horrendous performance in Philly.

4. Still in NYC, but Can’t See the Steelers

My last weekend in the United States found me still in New York for the Steelers-Jets game, yet I was unable to watch the game! My wife might have been sold on this one (she was more than OK with me watching the KC game), but it was our last full day in Manhattan, and we had a number of things we wanted to do, and also some things we needed to do.

  • The Steelers won, despite an ever lengthening injury list, on a week that saw the Steelers stash not just Senquez Golson but also Ryan Harris on IR.

From what I read, it was a good game even if the Steelers didn’t start particularly strong, they closed out the game with a second half shut out. That got us to 4-1, and I will take a 4-1 start anytime I can get one.

5. Shout Out to a Special Steelers Nation Scribe

Running a truly independent Steelers blog can be a solitary experience. God knows you, my readers, give continue to come in increasing numbers and give me shout outs on Twitter and Facebook, but stark fact is that here in 2016 you can’t have a site go dark for 25% of a season and expect to be taken seriously.

  • Thanks to Tony Defeo, this was a non-issue during my month long trek.

As regular readers know, big Steelers news only breaks when yours truly is unable to write. The correlation has almost been scientifically verified. For the past several off seasons, Tony has been keeping an eye on the back door, and made sure that no important stories fall through the cracks while I’m away.

Earlier this year, Tony started contributing regular features, and I highly suggest you check out his pieces on Calvin Sweeny, Weegie Thompson, David Little, Harry Newsome, Mark Malone and/or Larry Brown. These profiles, in addition to his other features, have enriched this site in ways I could never do on my own.

  • Over the last month Tony has gone into “Above and beyond the call of duty” of a part-time contributor.

That’s to him, the updates kept coming, whether I was putting in 14 hour days at a tradeshow on the West Coast, scrambling to process leads by day and spending quality time with family at night in my stomping grounds in Maryland, or vacationing in the Big Apple.

  • I’ve thanked you in private, and now I’ll do it in public – Thanks Tony for your contributions to Steel Curtain Rising.

Tony will continue to contribute this season here, but he publishes several times a week on Behind the Steel Curtain and Cover 32. Regardless of the locale, Tony’s stuff is must read. Check him out and be sure to follow him on Twitter:

Thanks to you, readers, for continuing to read. The Steelers are off to a good start. Let’s see where they can take it.

 

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Pittsburgh Steelers Report Card for Win Over the Jets

Quarterback 

Ben Roethlisberger completed 34 of 47 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 8.08 yards per attempt and had a quarterback rating of 124.4, according to ESPN.com. Roethlisberger’s numbers may have been even more impressive (or at least more efficient) had young receiver Sammie Coates held on to a few more of his passes. Grade: A

Running Back 

The Jets entered Sunday’s game second in the league against the run. Fact is, the sledding was pretty tough for Le’Veon Bell, who carried 20 times for just 66 yards and averaged 3.3 yards per attempt. But where New York’s defense didn’t have an answer for the star running back was when he was catching passes out of the backfield. Bell may have only gained 66 yards on the ground, but he complemented those by adding another 88 through the air on nine catches. As for veteran DeAngelo Williams, to say his day was uneventful would be an understatement; Williams carried just one time for zero yards. Grade: B

Wide Receivers

Sammie Coates had the game of his life (six catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns–the first two of his professional career). But he also dropped three passes and possibly two others, depending on who you talk to. As for superstar Antonio Brown, it wasn’t the kind of day that’s going to lead to him being named AFC Player of the Week, but he did reel in nine passes for 78 yards and one touchdown. Fourth-year man Markus Wheaton hasn’t found his stride since returning to the lineup after sitting out early in the season with a shoulder injury and had just two catches for 19 yards. Grade: B-

Tight Ends

Much like they had been doing all season, Jesse James and Xavier Grimble got the most out of the passes thrown their way on Sunday. In the case of James, he caught six passes for 43 yards and a touchdown late in the first half. Grimble only had two catches, but one of them went for 11 yards. Grade: B-

Offensive Line

For the second week in a row, the Steelers were down a starter on the offensive line (in-fact, they were down a starter and his backup–both right tackle Marcus Gilbert and swing tackle Ryan Harris missed the Jets game with injuries), but much like a week earlier when B.J. Finney excelled in place of Ramon Foster at left guard, Chris Hubbard stepped up in a big way at right tackle, and the line didn’t miss a beat. Sure, running the ball was tough, but the Jets were weakened in the secondary, and Roethlisberger was allowed to exploit that, as he enjoyed all the time in the world. He was only sacked one time in 47 drop-backs and was barely even harassed by the Jets’ potent defensive front. Grade: A-

Defensive Line

Defensive end Cameron Heyward left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury and never returned, but rookie Javon Hargrave filled in and performed admirably. While Bell and Co. had a hard time running against the Jets defense, Matt Forte and  Co. didn’t have it much better trying to do the same against Pittsburgh’s defense. New York rushed for just 71 yards on the day. Grade: B

Linebackers

For the second week in a row, Vince Williams filled in for Ryan Shazier at inside linebacker, and for the second week in a row, Williams led the team in tackles–this time with nine (eight solo). Williams also had two quarterback hits and a sack. Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones played one of his better games as a Steeler, recording three tackles, one pass defensed and two hits on the quarterback. Anthony Chickillo registered the first sack of his career, while Lawrence Timmons and Arthur Moats had a half a sack each. Grade: B+

Secondary

Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 25 of 38 passes for 255 yards and a touchdown. However, all but 92 of those yards came in the first half, as Pittsburgh’s pass-defense clamped down in a big way over the final two periods. Cornerback Ross Cockrell had a tough assignment trying to cover receiver Brandon Marshall all afternoon. Marshall had six catches for 86 yards and a touchdown in the first half, but was limited to 28 yards on two catches over the final two quarters, as Cockrell played much better down-the-stretch. Safety Mike Mitchell had another active game, totaling seven tackles (five solo), while Sean Davis had six tackles (four solo) and a pass defensed. Also, for the second week in a row, Jordan Dangerfield performed well enough at strong safety that nobody seemed to notice him. Grade: B-

Special Teams

There was the matter of that fake field goal Jordan Berry unsuccessfully executed in the first half (he was tackled well short of the sticks), but other than that, the special teams had another decent day. Speaking of Berry, he punted just three times but averaged 46.3 yards per boot and downed all three inside the 20, as New York recorded no return yards on punts.

The now frighteningly automatic Chris Boswell was dead-center on his lone field goal attempt from 47 yards away, as well as on his four extra points.

As for the return game, Antonio Brown returned two punts for 51 yards–including one for 33 yards early in the second half. Grade: B+

Coaching

After a near-flawless performance against the Chiefs a week earlier, it may have been easy for the Steelers to have a letdown against a 1-3 Jets team. However, other than a stretch in the second quarter, when New York scored 10-straight points to take a short-lived six-point lead, one never got the sense the Steelers were ever in any danger of losing. Kudos to head coach Mike Tomlin for dealing with massive injuries for the second week in a row–Eli Rogers, Marcus Gilbert, Ryan Harris, Ryan Shazier and Robert Golden were all ruled out of the game–yet having his team (especially his backups) prepared to play.

For the second-straight week, Todd Haley had to game-plan against a defense with a weakened secondary, and for the second-straight week, he exploited that weakness in a big way.

It looked like it would be a long day for Keith Butler’s defense through two quarters, but after allowing 219 yards in the first half, Pittsburgh yielded just 97 in the second. Grade: A

Unsung Hero

They say the only way anyone usually notices an offensive lineman is when he screws up. If that’s the case, Chris Hubbard (normally third-string on the depth chart) did a great job on Sunday filling in at right tackle for Marcus Gilbert and backup Ryan Harris.

 

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Steelers Improve to 4-1 with 31-13 Victory Over the New York Jets

The Steelers defeated the Jets, 31-13, at Heinz Field Sunday afternoon to improve to 4-1 for the first time since 2010.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 34 of 47 passes for 380 and four touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter that turned a rather tight affair into a no-doubter.

After New York opened the scoring with a Nick Folk field goal, the Steelers quickly responded when Roethlisberger found Sammie Coates for a 72-yard touchdown pass on third and seven.

The Jets then scored 10-unanswered points to take a 13-7 lead with just over two-minutes left in the first half. However, the Steelers quickly marched down the field on an 11-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a one-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to tight end Jesse James to give the home team a 14-13 lead at the break.

Pittsburgh’s defense looked pretty vulnerable in the first half, as New York amassed 219 total yards on offense. But in the second half, Keith Butler’s unit put the clamps down in a big way, limiting the Jets to 97 yards over the final two periods, forcing five-straight punts when the game was still in doubt and, of course, pitching a shutout on the scoreboard.

Also, the defense got after the quarterback for the second week in a row, as Ryan Fitzpatrick was sacked three times–including the first career sack by outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo.

Finally, New York only had 16 first downs to the Steelers 30 and was held to two of 11 on third down.

The game wasn’t without its ups and downs, particularly for the youngster Coates, who had a career day (six catches for 139 yards and his first two touchdowns as a pro) but also dropped several passes and suffered a severe laceration on his left hand that, according to Mark Kaboly of DKPittsburghSports.com, required 17 stitches at halftime. 

As for Pittsburgh’s star receiver–Antonio Brown–he caught nine passes for 78 yards and a five-yard  touchdown in the fourth quarter to make it 24-13. Brown also returned a punt 33 yards early in the third quarter and appeared to be one Calvin Pryor tackle away from taking it the distance.

In his second game since returning from a three-week suspension to start the season, running back Le’Veon Bell again was a weapon of mass destruction, as he carried 20 times for 66 yards and added another 88 yards on nine receptions.

Speaking of youngsters who experienced some ups and downs on Sunday, third-year corner Ross Cockrell had his hands full as he battled accomplished receiver Brandon Marshall all afternoon; Marshall probably got the best of  the match-up, as he caught eight passes for 114 yards and a touchdown that, by rights, Cockrell should have intercepted in the end zone late in the second quarter. But, just like the rest of the Steelers defense, Cockrell finished with a flurry, as he limited Marshall to two catches for 28 yards after the break.

Other than Coates’ hand laceration, the only other injury of note may turn out to be a big one, as star defensive end Cameron Heyward left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury and never returned.

Next Sunday, the Steelers travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins at 1 p.m.

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Watch Steelers vs Ravens in Buenos Aires

The Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Club of Buenos Aires is calling on all of the Black and Gold faithful in the porteño capital to join us to watch the Steelers-Ravens game at the bar Sugar, in Palermo.

Mind you, this is an informal gathering, but Sugar is the top expat bar in the city, and regularly shows NFL games. It will also give you a chance to meet El Dr. de Acero, the master behind this site’s Spanish articles, making Steel Curtain Rising the only bilingual blog in Steelers Nation.

Consider the Steelers track record when El Dr. de Acero and yours truly see games together:

That’s 5-3. Not a perfect record, but we’ll take it. Be part of the trend. Join us at Sugar (Costa Rica 4619) to watch the third Steelers-Ravens match up at Heinz Field during the Mike Tomlin era.

Go Steelers!

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Steelers Report Card for Loss to the Jets

Taken from the grade book of a teacher who saw his star pupil soar on three straight tests, only to fail miserably on what should have been a “gimmie” here is the Steelers Report Card for the loss to the Jets.
steelers, report card, grade, jets

Quarterback
This was not Ben Roethlisberger at his best. Roethlisberger was threw two interceptions and failed to move the team meaningfully during the game. His passing numbers were not bad, but Ben was again out of synch with his receivers at times and even ended up losing a snap late in the game. Grade: D

Running Backs
Le’Veon Bell only rushed for 33 yards, although he did gain some tough yards. His biggest contribution came in in the passing game when he made lemonade out of lemons on a few occasions. LeGarrette Blount was ineffective, and cost the team dearly on the goal line. Grade:  C-

Tight Ends
Heath Miller had 3 catches for 29 yards and Matt Spaeth did well blocking, but overall the tight ends failed to be a factor for the Steelers vs. the Jets. Grade: C

Wide Receivers
Martavis Bryant led the group and had what could have been a game breaker for the Steelers late in the game. Still, he was targeted 7 times and caught four, although that was not entirely his fault. Antonio Brown committed two fumbles, both of which cost the Steelers dearly. Markus Wheaton had 4 catches, although was out of position on the one interception. There were a number of instances where the Steelers wide outs were broke off routes too soon, and that hurt the team. Grade:  D

Offensive Line
Roethlisberger was only sacked twice, although Kelvin Bryant got beaten badly on one. Ben was hit often, which doesn’t reflect on poor line play as many hits were clearly after the ball was thrown. Still, this is the third game in a row where the Steelers failed to control the line of scrimmage in the running game, and while playing from behind might make that look academic, it’s a troubling trend. Grade: C-

Defensive Line
The Steelers sacked Michael Vick 4 times, with the defensive line accounting for 3 of those. The Jets had 150 yards of rushing, but never controlled the tempo with their running game. The line didn’t put forward a dominating performance, but they did hit one that was better than the outcome indicated. Grade: B

Linebackers
James Harrison had a strong game and was in Michael Vick’s face all day. Jason Worilds had a sack and also got his licks in on Vick. Sean Spence continues to improve as does Vince Williams. As usual Lawrence Timmons led the group and was all over the field. Grade:  B

Secondary
William Gay let what could have been a game-changing interception slip through his fingers. Michael Mitchell made a bizarre attempt to disrupt a victory formation knee down which made the Steelers look desperate. Brice McCain made decent accounting of himself. Vick only passed for 132 yards and got half of them on one play. The Steelers secondary left some plays on the field, but did better than they are generally being given credit for. Grade:  B-

Special Teams
Markus Wheaton returned 3 kicks for a decent average. Blount was average. But this was not a good day for the Steelers special teams as a penalty nullified an on sides kick recovery and the Steelers failed miserable at another attempt. The biggest issue however was missed field goal which should have been automatic, and that could have been a game changer. Shaun Suisham simply cannot miss kicks like that. Grade: F

Coaching
Mike Tomlin talked a good game about avoiding a letdown, but the Steelers with 4 turnovers essentially gave the game away. While Tomlin did not throw those interceptions or cough up those balls, this is yet another trap game the Steelers have surrendered on his watch.

Dick LeBeau’s defense did a respectable job, although they failed to match any of the Jet’s turnovers.

Todd Haley should take some heat for the lack luster performance of his offense – some of the play calling appeared questionable – what was James Harrison doing in as a tight end and why was he thrown the ball, but Haley isn’t responsible for those four turnovers. Grade:  D

Unsung Hero Award
The Steelers gave away the ball four times yet were still in the game until the very end. One of the reasons for that was the focused play of an number of individuals, but one of those stuck out, and that was Cameron Heyward, who had a sack, two hits of Michael Vick, and a tackle for a loss and should have had a fumble recovery on a play in which he kept hustling long after everyone else had stopped, and for that he gets the Unsung Hero Award for the loss to the Jets.

 

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Trap Game? Los Pittsburgh Steelers se suicidó en el pantano de New Jersey contra los Jets

Semana 10.

Los Pittsburgh Steelers, el equipo más caliente del último mes en toda la Liga, se suicidó en el pantano de New Jersey, cayendo por 20 a 13 vs los New York Jets.

 

  • (extraído de Twitter de @ca_salasv: Bad throws, fumbles, bad snaps, drops, bad playcalls, bad officiating, bad fieldgoal, at least the team got out of it healthy. #longweek)

 

 

Ese es, creo, el mejor resúmen de lo que la Nación Steeler pudo ver en el campo de juego esta tarde.

 Bienvenidos a casa, viejos Steelers

Que los Steelers arrancan lento, no ninguna es novedad. Tanto fue así que los Jets anotaron 17 de sus 20 puntos en el primer cuarto. La ofensiva acerera se ocupó de entregar el balón en 1 ocasión (fumble de Antonio Brown) que los Jets a su tiempo, transformaron en 7 puntos.

El primer cuarto terminó con 5 yardas totales para los Steelers y 164 para los Jets.

Durante el 2do cuarto la unidad de Ben Roethlisberger avanzó el balón durante 7:54 minutos para finalizar lanzando la primer pase interceptado en 147 intentos. Y, para hacer la historia más dolorosa aún, cuando estaban a punto de anotar, en la yarda 2 de los Jets. Si bien la intercepción se la cuentan a Ben, hay que atribuir mérito a los defensivos locales, Marcus Williams quien desvió el pase  y a Jaiquawn Jarrett quien lo atrapó. En el medio, el receptor novato acerero Martavis Bryant.

  • Pero las desventuras acereras no terminarían allí.

Luego de una patada de despeje, Antonio Brown soltó el balón siendo recuperado por New York en yarda 28 de Pittsburgh. Por fortuna, Nick Folk fallaría su gol de campo de 45 yardas.

Por su parte la defensiva estaba deteniendo a Michael Vick y compañía. Hay que tener en cuenta que el QB N° 1 es un gran atleta, siendo el cuarto acarreador de su equipo y que posee la destreza para escapar del acoso de linieros y linebackers, sobre todo de los linebackers acereros (sin Ryan Shazier en el campo) que están perdiendo su antigua velocidad. Así y todo lograron capturar a Vick en 4 oportunidades, aunque nunca perdió más de 1 ó 2 yardas por captura.

 La primera mitad finalizó con un gol de campo de Shaun Suisham de 53 yardas, récord en su carrera.

  • Las estadísticas de lo producido por ambas ofensivas hablaban claro y fuerte: Por tierra, 33 yds para Steelers; 104 para Jets. Por aire: 44 a 98. Total: 77 a 202.
  • Y lo más importante: 3 entregas de los Steelers que significaron tan solo 7 puntos para la casa.

Pero, con lo producido en las últimas 3 semanas por la ofensiva de Todd Haley, una diferencia de 2 TD no parecía a esas alturas, algo insalvable.

  • La esperanza se iba perdiendo poco a poco conforme pasaba el tiempo y las cosas se iban complicando, mientras Ben lanzaba su 2da intercepción de la tarde. Con gran protección de la línea ofensiva, parado firme sobre sus piernas, centrado en su eje.

Simplemente eligió lanzar a Markus Wheaton, rodeado de tres defensivos, un pase muy alto, volado, con mucho aire debajo. Segunda intercepción para J. Jarrett. De este turnover los Jets tampoco sacarían puntos.

Luego de una pésima serie acerera, en la que Roethlisberg se mostró absolutamente fuera de tiempo con sus receptores, William Gay soltó una intercepción de sus manos, lo que habría significado un cambio de aire para un desmoralizado y frustrado Pittsburgh Steelers. El tiempo pasaba en el tercer cuarto y la gran jugada no aparecía. Finalmente, los Jets anotarían tres puntos más en el marcador transformando el partido en uno de tres anotaciones.

Que tal si les digo que a la fiesta no faltó Shaun Suisham, fallando un gol de campo de 23 yardas que hubiese acortado la distancia que a esa altura era de 17 puntos?

  • El equipo de New York ya estaba basando su juego en el ataque terrestre para quemar el reloj.  La defensiva del Coach LeBeau seguía poniendo el balón en manos de Big Ben.

Pero era inútil. La ofensiva anotó tan solo un gol de campo luego de tener un 1er y goal en la yarda 1 de los Jets. La serie finalizó en 4to y goal en la 9.

  • La penúltima serie de los acereros fue otro bochorno: en 3er y 5 en NYJ 47, un error en la coordinación del centrado, provocó un fumble que los puso en 4to y 21, y más tarde terminó entregando la posesión por downs.

El cierre de los Steelers fue un pase de TD a Martavis Bryant de 80 yardas, gracias a la elusividad de Big Ben.

Pero ya era tarde, 1:16 por jugar y con un time out por pedir.

Desde el cielo al infierno, en un paso

Luego de 3 semanas en que la ofensiva de Haley-Roethlisberger logró resultados impensados por los fanáticos, propios y ajenos, se ha vuelto a este funcionamiento (cuesta definirlo) autolesivo.

Reaparecieron problemas que imaginábamos, habrían sido superados: 

  • 0-3 en zona roja.
  • Sólo 36 yardas por tierra
  • 4 entregas de balón sin conseguir ninguno
  • QB-WR en distintas páginas
  • Errores mentales como el fumble de AB en la devolución de patada, el gol de campo malogrado o el mal snap, sea del centro o del mariscal la responsabilidad final
  • Equipos especiales que no regresan las patadas y que no logran mejorar la posición de arranque de la ofensiva
  • Déficit de cobertura en la secundaria (entiendo que no estén jugando los titulares pero “next man up”) Qué hubiese pasado si Vick hubiese lanzado más?
  • Jugadas grandes =0 (aquí podría argumentarse que debió contabilizarse como fumble cuando Michael Vick soltó el balón que fuera recuperado por Cam Hayward)
  • Pobre manejo de las cargas por parte de la línea ofensiva

 Y uno vuelve a las preguntas de siempre: cuáles son los verdaderos Steelers?

Es que el equipo aparece sólo cuando es punto y no banca?

Tiene este equipo (la ofensiva en el juego de hoy pero otras veces fue la defensiva) el estado mental que se requiere para estar en postemporada?

Sí la respuesta es Sí, lo tiene siempre? La respuesta es No

Hasta dónde llega la responsabilidad del CO Todd Haley? Quiero decir: son errores de ejecución o de selección de jugadas?

Cómo puede llegarse de 1er y goal en la 1 a 4to y goal en la 9 y 3 puntos en lugar de 7?

  •  Sólo tengo preguntas y ninguna respuesta.

 Ahora caímos a la tercera posición en la AFC North entrando a noviembre. Por desgracia es una división que no permite distracciones o licencias.

Vienen los Titans en Tennessee, en el MNF con marca de 2-7. Lo que para cualquier equipo sería una ventaja (esto es enfrentar a un contendiente con marca francamente perdedora) para los Steelers se convierte en una pesadilla.

 El Dr. de Acero

 

 

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Steelers Inconsistent 2014 Season Continues with 20-13 Loss to Lowly Jets

Perhaps it’s fitting that it’s been exactly 30 seasons since the Steelers up-and-down 1984 campaign that eventually culminated in an improbable berth in the AFC Championship game.

Much like the ’84 team, if the 2014 edition makes it into the postseason, it may look back on its performances against seemingly inferior opponents and realize just how fortunate things turned out.

The Steelers traveled to MetLife Stadium on Sunday with a 6-3 record and riding an impressive  three game winning-streak over Houston, Indianapolis and Baltimore–all AFC playoff contenders. However, just like against the Buccaneers in Week 4, who were 0-3 and the Jaguars a week later, who were 0-4, Pittsburgh got off to a slow start against a Jets team that came into the game 1-8 and fell behind by scores of 17-0 and 20-3 before losing, 20-13, to fall to 6-4 on the season.

If you’re a team historian and know anything about the ’84 Steelers, you know they recorded some crucial victories that year over the 49ers, the soon-to-be Super Bowl champions and the Raiders, the defending league champions. But Pittsburgh also lost games to a Colts team that would lose 12 games and an Oilers squad that would lose 13.

So far in 2014, the Buccaneers, Jaguars and Jets all look to be on their way to similar records, with a combined four wins, yet two of them have come against Pittsburgh.

Heading into the game, many said the Jets weren’t quite as bad as their record may have indicated, what with veteran quarterback Michael Vick taking the place of the struggling Geno Smith, who was responsible for the majority of the team’s 18 turnovers, and receiver Percy Harvin in the line-up after coming over from Seattle in a trade.

Also, despite giving up the most passing touchdowns in the NFL and recording only three takeaways, New York’s defense did boast a rather potent pass rush, with 25 quarterback sacks before Sunday’s action.

Coming off a record 12 touchdown passes in two games, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was on the roll of his career. And against a make-shift New York secondary, he figured to be licking his chops.

Unfortunately, other than a long touchdown to rookie Martavis Bryant late in the game that cut the Jets lead to 20-13 and only delayed the inevitable, Roethlisberger didn’t look anything like the passer he was in recent weeks, as he was intercepted twice–including one near the goal line in the second quarter that snuffed out a potential scoring drive–and wasn’t in-rhythm with his receivers most of the afternoon. Roethlisberger may have only been sacked twice, but he was certainly under pressure a good bit of the day and needed his mobility and strength to avoid more.

Pro Bowl receiver Antonio Brown had a fairly awful day and equaled his quarterback in the turnover department, fumbling on a short screen pass early in the game that led to a Jets touchdown and muffing a punt later on that was recovered by New York.

Pittsburgh’s defense wasn’t  totally awful on Sunday, but it certainly wasn’t good enough to make up for four turnovers by the offense. And while the Steelers defense did sack Vick four times and limited him to just 125 yards through the air, the unit was gouged for 150 on the ground and failed to take the football away at all.

Kicker Shaun Suisham got in on the act, as he missed a 23 yard field goal in the second half after booting one from 53  near the end of the first half. Also, Suisham’s onside kick attempt after Pittsburgh cut the lead to 20-13 was pretty awful and recovered by the Jets without much suspense.

The Steelers, who had a chance at first place with a 7-3 record, now find themselves in a tie with Baltimore for third (or last) place in the AFC North, with the Browns on top of the division with a 6-3 mark.

Pittsburgh travels to Tennessee next Monday night for a prime-time match-up against a lowly Titans team, who will enter the game at 2-7.

Hopefully, the 2014 Steelers will find a way to avoid a second-straight loss to an AFC bottom-feeder. Otherwise, that impressive three-game winning streak at Heinz Field will seem like a distant memory.

 

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Mike Tomlin Right to Ban End Zone Somersault

Prelude – January 2, 2000, Three Rivers Stadium – The 6-9 Pittsburgh Steelers are en route to becoming the 6-10 Pittsburgh Steelers in a meaningless game vs. the Tennessee Titans. 

The game is sloppy. 

Both teams return fumbles for touchdowns. But it also features such low lights as Levon Kirkland getting muscled out of bounds by Neil O’Donnell, Wayne Gandy giving up yet another safety, and that of Bobby Shaw basking in garbage time glory by lifting his jersey to reveal a Superman shirt. Reflecting on the  erosion of discipline inherent in Shaw’s escapade  Bob Labriola of the Steelers Digest remarks, “This must never be repeated.”

The Pittsburgh Steelers have come a long way since then. And while it remains to be seen if the ’13 Steelers can improve on the ’99 Steelers mark for futility, they are exhibiting some similarities.

Witness Le’Veon Bell’s first touchdown during the loss in London (available as of 10/18/13):

Never let it be said that wide receivers conceded the spot light to running backs on the Steelers, and Emmanuel Sanders seemed intent on proving vs. the Jets (available as of 10/18/13):

There are a number of things wrong with these end zone somersaults:

  • At the very best, they’re a sign of excessive showboating the Steelers Nation loathes
  • In the middle, they create an unnecessary risk of an end zone fumble
  • At the worst, players are exposing themselves to potentially life altering injuries

Shaw’s Superman stint happened during the last game of the season, so their was no way to immediately address it. But, as Jerome Bettis often remarked, Bill Cowher reacted to that ’99 season by becoming more demanding. Such lapses of discipline disappeared during the Cowher-Colbert era.

Mike Tomlin said nothing publically about Bell’s end zone backflip after London. But he responded swiftly to Sanders’ imitation by banning such displays.

Tomlin made the right move.

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