1. Putting The Special Into Special Teams –
After spending all week defending the actions of his unit following strength coach Sal Alosi's sideline trip of a Miami player during a punt return last game, special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff's unit stepped up on Sunday. There was Brad Smith's 98-yard punt return on the game's opening kickoff for six points, where he followed a wall of blockers down the right side of the field to rumble in untouched. "If Brad Smith doesn't make the Pro Bowl somethings wrong," said head coach Rex Ryan. Nick Folk, after some recent struggles, made both field goals and twice in the fourth quarter, punter Steve Weatherford pinned Pittsburgh inside their own 10-yard line.
2. A Little Trickeration –
The Jets were down 17-10 but moving their way down the field midway through the third quarter when their drive stalled at Pittsburgh's seven –yard line on third down. Deciding to go for it, the Jets I-formation seemed to spell out run up the gut. Instead, quarterback Mark Sanchez sold the handoff and ran a bootleg for the tying score. It was a gutsy call that was well executed by Sanchez. More than anything, the touchdown broke the offense's scoreless streak which had extended three full games since the third quarter of the Thanksgiving win over the Bengals.
3. A Big Fish –
Two weeks ago, Jason Taylor made it known that he wanted more snaps after barely playing in the loss at New England. Well, Taylor had his chances on Sunday, including a fourth quarter safety on Pittsburgh's Mewelde Moore when he raced unmolested to track down the running back. "Kind of made an educated guess and it worked out," Taylor said. A native of western Pennsylvania, Taylor had just two tackles on the afternoon, but both were for a loss. "Jason Taylor just makes plays," Ryan said. An impact performance from a veteran player whose safety gave the Jets a 22-17 lead and forced Pittsburgh to go for a touchdown rather than needing a field goal to tie.
Three Things That Went Wrong
1. Methodical Steelers –
It took well into the second quarter for Pittsburgh to even the game after the Jets took an early lead with Brad Smith's kickoff return on the game's opening play, but the Steelers scored in imposing fashion. The 16-play, 96-yard drive used up 8:12 off the clock and was capped off by Ben Roethlisberger tossing a nine-yard touchdown pass to tight end Matt Spaeth. Then the Steelers kept the second half kickoff and marched down the field using five runs and four passes to go 74 yards for a 17-10 lead.
2. Getting Clocked –
After Pittsburgh's late first-half drive resulted in a game-tying field goal, the Jets took over the ball with decent field position on their own 37-yard line. It all looked somewhat promising with 33 seconds on the clock and two timeouts in their pocket. Rather than take some strikes down the field to get into field goal range, much maligned offensive coordinator Brian Scottenheimer continued the head scratchers with an underneath pass to Braylon Edwards and then no timeout call. The Jets ran another play after wasting nearly 20 seconds trying to get lined up and then called a timeout with three seconds left. They then flushed their last play with a Sanchez toss out of bounds. With good clock management, the Jets could have put themselves in position for three points as kicker Nick Folk has made his last four field goal tries.
3. No So Safe –
After Taylor's late game safety, the Jets took over on their own 33-yard line following a bizarre Antonio Cromartie return where he began by running backwards for a six-yard loss. All the Jets needed to do was get a first down to essentially ice the game, and they failed to do so, going three and out. The Jets did make the Steelers use two timeouts which proved vital in the late game management but a first down on that drive would have been huge for the Jets.