Week 15 Preview: Pittsburgh at New York Jets

There is another first ballot hall of fame running back with Pittsburgh ties playing on Sunday and he doesn't go by the moniker "Bus". He's Curtis Martin, a native Pittsburgher and former Pittsburgh Panther. And as with many great aging players in the NFL, he's been forgotten.

Surely, he's lost a step and he doesn't have the outside turning speed he used to. But the man has amassed, in nine seasons, over 11,000 yards. He is only 47 yards away from his ninth straight 1,000-yard season and could, with a few strong games, end the season with one of his better years. In fact, Martin has averaged 1257 yards a season and he's only 304 yards away from that number.

So, has he truly lost a step or is Martin just uber-consistent? His detractors would be correct in saying that his multiple injuries added to a small frame have shortened his career and slowed him down, but they would be incorrect in saying that Martin is nearing the end. He's younger than Jerome Bettis, as far as starters go, and he has missed only 4 games in his career.

He may not have the breakaway speed he once had, but the ex-Panther still runs the screen as well as anyone in the league (at one point Martin was the best screen runner in the NFL).

Martin will be a factor come Sunday. He'll get his yards, but the real joy will be watching another Pittsburgh product making good in the NFL.

OFFENSE

Pittsburgh Ranked 20th (Passing 10th, Rushing 31st) – The Steelers must find a way to run the ball. Jerome Bettis should be able to pound out another high yardage day against the porous Jets rushing defense. Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress will make their catches, but both may find it difficult to reach the end-zone.

NY Jets Ranked 18th (Passing 12th, Rushing 26th) – Curtis Martin is running well for being at the end of his career and on a bad team. The Jets should come out with passing looks to get the Steelers focused in a nickel look and then run Martin until Fireman Ed loses his voice.

Advantage: The Jets proved two weeks ago that they only need 50 seconds to win a game.

DEFENSE

Pittsburgh Ranked 8th (Passing 12th, Rushing 9th) – The Steelers defensive statistics are a bit misleading. They started at near the top of the totem pole the first few weeks and have steadily declined as each week has passed.

NY Jets Ranked 25th (Passing 9th, Rushing 32nd) – The Jets can't stop the run. They don't have a prayer of stopping Bettis. The best they can hope for is to pressure Maddox into mistakes.

Advantage: Pittsburgh's defense is tougher, but can it be opportunistic?

QUARTERBACKS

Tommy Maddox: Maddox has cut down on mistakes and finally hooked up with Plaxico Burress last week.

Chad Pennington: Pennington makes the team better around him as a true, budding superstar should.

Advantage: Pennington gets the nod because he's younger and more dangerous.

OUTLOOK: The Steelers will win this low scoring game by the skin of their teeth. Don't be surprised to see another big day by the Bus. But Pennington will shine in a losing cause.


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