Monday, September 17, 2012

Week Two: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Jets Recap

On the board for 2012. It was a tale of two halves in this game. The first half gave every indication that the Steelers were going to find a way to lose to an obviously inferior opponent. Then, offensively and defensively, the Steelers flipped the switch in the second and dominated the Jets en route to a 17 point victory which is one point more than the point differential in the last four meeting between these two teams combined.

Steelers Offense vs. Jets Defense: It is extremely obvious just how important Darrelle Revis is to the Jets' defense. The only problem is that the Steelers waited until the second half to realize it. For a large portion of the first half, the Steelers were bent on establishing the run and the way they tried to do it was bad. First off, Jonathan Dwyer who was their best back in the opener against Denver didn't see the field until late in the second quarter. They ran an end around to Antonio Brown on a third and long which worked but was a questionable decision. Then, they went as far as to run a statue of liberty play to Chris Rainey which got blown up.

The run game was much better in the second half but it was opened up by Ben Roethlisberger and the passing game. The biggest splash play was one in which Roethlisberger eluded a sack and noticed Mike Wallace in single coverage and chucked the ball towards the end zone. Antonio Cromartie outran the play and Wallace made a tremendous catch to come down with the touchdown that allowed the Steelers to start to pull away.

The Jets never even really had an opportunity to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter because they couldn't get the ball. The Steelers put together a ten minute drive that ended in a one yard touchdown run by Isaac Redman. It was longest drive by the Steelers offense since 2007 but they did get some help. There was a defensive holding penalty on a third and short that the Steelers failed to convert. They also caught a break on a first down run by Redman in which his knee hit the ground in the backfield.

Steelers Defense vs. Jets Offense: The Steelers weren't just missing their best defensive player but two of their best defensive players with Troy Polamalu and James Harrison both out of the lineup. However, the defense didn't have nearly as many problems as the Jets did and for large part because they had the benefit of facing Mark Sanchez.

Even then, the Steelers made Sanchez look like an elite quarterback at the start of the game. His first drive saw a 45 yard pass to Jeremy Kerley and ended in a touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes. It looked like they picked up right where they left off last week. Lawrence Timmons may have been the worst of the bunch in the first half. It was hard to find a play where he didn't overpursue and allow the ball carrier to run right by him.

That all changed sometime in the second quarter when you started to see the defense play a lot more under control. They started to put a little bit of pressure on Sanchez and even tallied a few sacks. Ryan Clark was arguably the best defender on the field in his season debut. He was admittedly just as out of control as anyone to start the game but he calmed down and made some big plays. Maybe the biggest of which was a deep ball to Stephen Hill that he made a nice recovery on and knocked the ball away at the last second.

Looking Ahead: This was a big bouceback win coming off of the disappointing season opener. All of a sudden, the Steelers find themselves in a three way tie at 1-1 at the top of the division. They also find themselves heading to Oakland next week which is a place that has not treated them to well in the recent past. However, the Raiders have been the equivalent of a tire first through the first two weeks of the season including a blowout loss to a Miami team that isn't very good on Sunday.

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