Monday, December 20, 2010

The Green Machine is Alive: JETS 22 - Steelers 17

The Jets went into Pittsburgh and did what they had never done before in franchise history; they won. Gang Green pulled out a much needed win over the Steelers and are now one win away from clinching a playoff spot. Mark Sanchez stood strong and got his team back on track with some big help from his defense.

The Jets finally did what they had been saying they needed to do for weeks. They started hot and came out with a bang on the opening kickoff. Brad Smith found a big hole and returned the opening kickoff 97 yards to give the Jets an early 7-0 lead. Smith scored the last Jets touchdown on a kickoff return 3 weeks ago against the Bengals, but was able to keep both of his shoes on this time.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger got off to a slow start, but found his rhythm late in the first quarter, which led to three straight scoring drives ending with a touchdown on the first possession of the second half. From that point on, Big Ben could not get anything going. On the ensuing drive, Sanchez led the Jets 66 yards down the field and scored on a 4th and 1 bootleg in which Sanchez faked the hand off and ran the ball into the end zone himself to tie the game. At this point, the defense stepped in and gave the Jets a chance to take the lead, which they did on a field goal on their next drive. Two series later, after a Jets punt forced the Steelers to start a drive at their own 3-yard line, Jason Taylor powered past the offensive line untouched and tackled Steelers’ back Mewelde Moore in the end zone for a safety to give a Jets a safer 22-17 lead. The Jets only managed to kill 25 seconds after getting the ball back, leaving a little over two minutes for the Steelers to try and drive 92 yards for a game winning touchdown. Ben Roethlisberger picked apart the Jets’ secondary and drove the Steelers 82 yards to the Jets’ 10-yard line with nine seconds left. On the next two plays, the Jets sent only three men to rush the quarterback and dropped eight back in coverage. This proved to be the winning strategy as Roethlisberger’s two attempts at the end zone fell to the ground incomplete leaving the Jets with the victory.

This was the most complete game the Jets have played since their week two victory over the Patriots. Mark Sanchez protected the ball well and ended an eight game interception streak. The Jets took advantage of Troy Polamalu being inactive. His presence creates a different atmosphere on the field and his absence was a huge reason the Jets were able to protect the ball. Sanchez did not throw for any touchdowns, but did produce his third rushing touchdown of the season, the Jets’ first offensive touchdown in 11 quarters of football. Looking at the numbers, the Jets ground game does not look very impressive. The Steelers are the top ranked rush defense in the NFL and only allowed 60 yards per game on the ground going into the game. The Jets rushed for 106 yards, the most the Steelers have given up all season. LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene proved to be a nice one-two punch and came up big when they needed to. Braylon Edwards had his biggest game of the season, making eight catches for 100 yards.

The Jets defense gave up an ugly 378 yards of offense and the Steelers had two receivers with seven catches. Rashard Mendenhall became the first running back to rush for 100 yards on the Jets this season. As bad as that may look, the defense stepped up big time in the second half and is a huge reason for this Jets’ victory. 

Just wanted to throw this video in. Rex Ryan showing lots of respect for Mike Tomlin and the Steelers. You can hear him say "We'll see you in there. We'll play again."

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