Time enough for one play. Time enough for a most satisfying win. Time enough for a debilitating loss. The ball lay 10 yards away from the end zone. An exhausted New York Jets defense stood on the slush covered field, charged with the responsibility to live up to its reputation.
Defenders alternated between rushing towards Ben Roethlisberger and backpedaling into the end zone at the snap. Two Jets grabbed Roethlisberger, who squirmed free. And then time froze as the ball spiraled out of Ben Roethlisberger's hand towards the end zone and fourth year tight end Matt Spaeth. Before the pass could settle in Spaeth's open, waiting hands, reserve cornerback Marquice Cole slapped the ball. The ball spun before it landed out of bounds. Incomplete. Game over.
What the Jets did in one late afternoon in Pittsburgh , a city in which they have historically failed, was begin to exercise two weeks worth of demons. There was nothing aesthetically pleasant about the Jets' 22-17 win over the Steelers Sunday night. But it will be their most fulfilling win of the season. The Jets have endured two weeks worth of criticism and questions and snark from media outlets—including this website—and fans after the 45-3 and 10-6 losses to New England and Miami. The only Jets coach or player or executive to do anything noteworthy during the franchise's catastrophic fortnight was Strength and Conditioning coach Sal Alosi, who tripped Miami Dolphins special teams player Nolan Carroll.
The Jets improved to 10-4 with the win. Should they win next Sunday in Chicago , the Jets should guarantee themselves a second straight playoff appearance. The Bears are a playoff contender in the NFC.
Despite the win, there are still questions about the Jets. In particular, the offensive unit which was only able to record two field goals (25 and 34 yards) from Nick Folk and a seven yard Mark Sanchez touchdown run. Brad Smith returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown and veteran linebacker Jason Taylor wrapped Mewelde Moore in the end zone with 2:38 in the fourth quarter for a safety for the Jets' other scores.
Sanchez played mistake-free football Sunday. He completed 19-of-29 passes for 170 yards and did not commit a turnover. LaDainian Tomlinson, Shonn Greene, Sanchez and Smith combined for 106 rushing yards on 27 carries. Braylon Edwards caught eight passes for 100 yards.
Roethlisberger threw for 264 yards on 44 attempts. The Pittsburgh quarterback connected with Spaeth for nine-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Mike Wallace had 102 receiving yards on seven catches. Rashard Mendenhall rushed 17 times for 100 yards and a touchdown. Shaun Suisham made a 42 yard field goal.
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