Keys To Victory

The Jets limp into Pittsburgh losers of two straight, but the team is not quite down and out, says Rick Laughland.


With the Jets in full tailspin mode, Rex Ryan's boys trek to the not-so- friendly confines of Heinz Field seeking to gain some altitude. The Jets have never found Pittsburgh to be friendly skies, a franchise mark of 0-6 in the city their mark for futility. New York's wide out Santonio Holmes returns to the city that shipped him out, following his violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. The former Super Bowl XLII MVP looks to plant a seed of regret in Pittsburgh's mind, by running wild against the Steelers 23rd ranked pass defense. Holmes will be a key cog in the Jets offensive attack as quarterback Mark Sanchez has struggled mightily the past three games. New York can ill-afford to drop a third straight AFC contest, with the Colts, Chargers and Jaguars hot on their heels.


1. Win the turnover battle

The Steelers maintain a +14 turnover differential, with a defense that has produced three touchdowns. New York has been plagued by turnovers of late, and will need to be cognizant of Pittsburgh proclivity for forcing opponents into mistakes. Last Sunday against Cincinnati, the Steelers failed to score an offensive touchdown (much like New York) with safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker LaMarr Woodley each earning pick six's propelling the team to a 23-7 win. The safety, however, is out injured for this Sunday's game.

2. Win the rushing battle

It's no secret that the Steelers hold claim to the NFL's best rushing defense surrendering barely 60 yards per game, but the question remains whether Gang Green will return to their identity as a ground and pound club. Pittsburgh's menacing front, led by hard-hitting linebacker James Harrison boasts a sizeable challenge for New York, whose run game has sputtered the past few weeks. The Steelers held Cincinnati to 34 rushing yards last Sunday, dominating the line of scrimmage and wreaking destruction on the lowly Bengals. New York abandoned their rushing attack with Mark Sanchez throwing the ball a season high 44 times to no avail. This is not a good matchup for New York.

3. Pressuring Big Ben

Pittsburgh's faulty offensive line ranks 26th in sacks allowed with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hitting the ground on 35 occasions thus far in 2010. The Jets dialed up the pressure last week against the Dolphins collecting five sacks of Chad Henne, who passed for an NFL season low of 55 yards. Gang Green will need more of the same as they make a bid to upset a gritty Steelers squad riding a four game winning streak. New York's pass rushers will have to be persistent as bringing down the six foot five, 240 pound Roethlisberger is a tall order.

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