Early last week Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley said that the Steelers weren't going to start the season 0-2. Some people took that as a guarantee and figured it would be bulletin board material for the Jets. Some thought it was just Woodley being confident in his team to pull out the win. Whether it was the former or the latter he was right and the Steelers came out and dominated the New York Jets and now are one of, well almost all the teams, that are now 1-1. No falling sky. No funeral for the season. Just a solid win over a team that most people thought was really good. They weren't.
The game really didn't start of great for the Steelers as they gave up ten points to the Jets in their first two possessions and Mark Sanchez looked comfortable and was making plays. You had that feeling that this might be a long game that was going to frustrate you and give you ulcers but the Steelers turned it around and didn't give the Jets anything after that.
The Steelers offense settled for three on their first drive but after that it was all good. The Steelers took a 13-10 lead into the half and then scored a touchdown in each of the third and fourth quarters. Ballgame.
-Ben Roethlisbger was on the top of his game for the Steelers. He finished the game completing 24-of-31 passes for 275 and a pair of touchdowns. He was on point all game and led the Steelers to converting 8-of-15 third downs and more importantly he took care of the football and didn't get banged up only getting hit three times all game. I will take that every day of the week. Last week against the Broncos I talked about how Ben checked down, a lot, and that was pretty reflective in his yards per attempt which if you know me know I think is one of the most important quarterback stats. This week he was much better, pushing the ball down the field when he had the chance and dumping it down when he needed to. He finished with a YPA of 8.9 and this was really just a surgical game by Roethlisberger. He won this football game for the Steelers. When a big play needed made he made it.
-I think that Roethlisberger was probably the MVP of the game yesterday but Ryan Clark made it really, really, close. Clark more than made up for not playing in Denver and did an outstanding job softening the blow of not having Troy Polamalu on the field. Clark led the team with eight tackles and a pass defended and laid the wood on numerous occasions. while Clark does go over the top looking for the big hit he did an outstanding job on the backend and also in the run game. Love to see it and I can't wait until he and Troy are on the same field together.
-Most of you that read and follow me know that I am a huge Ike Taylor fan. He is one of the most underrated corners in the league and isn't widely regarded as an elite corner because he can't catch the football. Well, Taylor didn't have a great performance to start the game as he gave up an early touchdown to the Jets Santonio Holmes but as the game went on Taylor got stronger and stronger. While it is true that Tone dropped a couple of balls Taylor was still in his hip pocket all night. Holmes was targeted 11 times (!) and only caught three passes so it wasn't like the TD was one of the only plays that Taylor saw. He had a lot of action and most of the time he won. I will take that.
-I talked in the preview that if the Steelers were going to win then they needed to get some pressure. The Steelers won and they really didn't get after Sanchez too much and it ended up working up just as well. A problem that started last year was that the Steelers weren't getting the splash plays and it is starting to look like it is going to be that way again this year, at least through two games. The Steelers created a turnover yesterday but that happened on special teams and they were only able to get Sanchez sacked twice and hit him only three times total. Not good enough going forward.
-Probably the one real negative you can take out of this game was that the running game just isn't there. The Steelers ran the ball 28 times for 66 yards which turns out to a pretty bad 2.4 yard per attempt average. That isn't going to cut it going forward and even though the passing game is the focal point you still need to be able to be competent running the football. I will give the team this, late in the game when the Steelers needed to put the game away they relied on a combination of Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman and punched a touchdown in that put the game out of reach. You love to see that but it would be ideal if the team could get some more of that. I think we will probably start to see a little more of the pass setting up the run going forward but I still think that the Steelers ran the ball enough to keep the Jets honest which is really all they need the ground game to do.
-The Steelers started it last week just they just dominated the time of possession again. They held a decisive advantage again at a ridiculous 36:36 - 23:24 clip and that included a drive that lasted 14 plays and covered 75 yards that took 10:13 of game. This came in the fourth quarter of a game where it was only a ten point lead. In the drive they rushed the ball eight times and just did whatever they wanted to a Jets team. Like I said it was only a ten point lead when the quarter started and the Steelers not only added on but they kill essentially the whole quarter on one drive. They didn't do that last year and they dominated TOP last week and again this week. I like that a lot.
-The Young Money crew just got after it yesterday. Antonio Brown caught seven passes for 79 yards while Mike Wallace caught a touchdown for the second week in a row with five catches for 75 yards. His touchdown catch was a thing of beauty in the third quarter of a one score game on third down. Emmanuel Sanders only made three catches on the day but was good early and when you can have him as your third wideout you are pretty lucky. Brown made some really tough catches and Wallace has shown some nice growth as more than just a deep threat. I think that people get too set on thinking that 100 yards is the definition of a good receiving day. That just isn't the case. Brown and Wallace were outstanding and neither really came close to 100 yards. They made big time catches when the Steelers needed big time catches and Ben has so many options when he looks down the field that there aren't enough balls to go around.
-Scary situation during the game when Lawrence Timmons went helmet to helmet with Sanchez. I know that I saw some people saying that it shouldn't have been a penalty but if you really think that then you need to take off the Black and Gold colored glasses and see it for what it was, an illegal play. The penalty call was more than correct and I would expect him to get a hefty fine. You can't do stuff like that and Timmons should have known better, especially on a quarterback. I know the game is fast and these things happen in a split second but it was the right call.
All in all a great win for the Steelers. The Jets weren't a very good team, I don't think, and Sanchez really made the defense look a lot better than it probably was but I will take wins however I can get them.