Over the last two weeks, Roethlisberger has been on an unprecedented roll. His 12 total touchdown passes over that time is an NFL record.
While Roethlisberger has been setting the records, Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin says it is a team effort.
“He’s in rhythm but I think so is the whole unit,” said Tomlin. “For him to put up the type of numbers he has put up particularly in the recent weeks, it’s not a one man job. I think the offensive line has done a really good job of protecting and giving him time to do what he needs to do and I think the young wide receiver core is really rounding into form and doing what they need to do in terms of getting open and catching the football.”
Rex Ryan, the man tasked with designing a game plan to slow down Roethlisberger knows it will be a challenge.
“I’ve had a lot of matchups against Big Ben through my days, lost two [AFC] championship games to him… I’ve never seen him this hot,” said Ryan. “He’s on fire right now. They’re doing a great job executing their offense and they have a lot of weapons.”
The responsibility to stop or at least slow down the Steelers’ “weapons” like Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant fall on the shoulders of the Jets secondary. The secondary, which has been a question mark since training camp, has done little to eliminate that stigma.
Last week, the Jets rolled out undrafted free agent Marcus Williams and converted safety Antonio Allen as their starting cornerbacks. Couple that with rookie safety Calvin Pryor, who has had his struggles in coverage this season it would seem like the Jets would be in for a long day but Ryan is confident that his corners will be up to the task.
“It is a big task. There is no doubt “ said Ryan of stopping the Steelers offense. “I know our guys are going to put forth the effort and, yes, we have to look at it. I think as a coach you look at everything. We clearly know that we have to get better, our plan has to be better, we have to coach better, we have to practice better and we have to play better. All of those areas have to improve to stay competitive and more so, we have to find a way to win. That is what we aim to do. So will our corners be up to it? Yes, we’ll be up to it.”
Even with all of the arrows pointing in their favor, Roethlisberger and Tomlin agree with Ryan and not only believe the Jets’ defense will “be up to it” but pose a serious challenge.
“This is a good defense [and] I don’t think they’re getting the credit they deserve,” said Roethlisberger during a conference call with the media on Wednesday. “It’s a Rex Ryan defense and I’ve felt the pain of his defenses for a long time. We’re expecting a lot of unique blitzes and looks and craziness and you can say what you want but this is a very good defense.”
“I don’t think they’ve (the defense) played poorly,” said Tomlin. “I think that the only thing that they are lacking that I seen from them in the past is the turnovers. They’ve got some talented people…We’ve got a lot of respect for those guys [and] we’ve seen a lot of them and we expect nothing but their best.”
One thing is for sure, the Jets defense will have to play one of their best games of the year, to stop the Steelers offense.
“Right now, they’re carving people up said Ryan. “It is impressive to say the least.”