Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
In a game that meant a lot more to the Steelers than it did the Jets, it took the visitors a while to get going. Pittsburgh fell two scores behind early and, although they tied the game just before halftime, the Jets managed to shut them out after half time to hold on for a hard-fought 16-10 win.
The Jets were in control for most of the first half. They played the run well, generated pressure and intercepted two Devlin Hodges passes to knock him out of the game. However, Mason Rudolph came off the bench and gave the Steelers a spark, leading them to a field goal and then following that up with a late touchdown to tie the score.
Offensively, the Jets had put together a nice touchdown drive to start the game but then once again the offense faltered once they got through the scripted portion of the gameplan. Sam Darnold's fumble after the Jets reached midfield on an attempted two-minute drill would set up the tying score.
After half-time, two Sam Ficken field goals provided the only scoring for either team and when Rudolph was knocked out of the game, that helped thwart the Steelers' attempted comeback. They had the ball late, though, only for Marcus Maye's spectacular last minute pass break-up in the end zone to prevent the go-ahead score.
Meanwhile, here are some other takeaways from the Jets' fifth home win of the season ...
- Much of the pre-game focus was on former Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell, but he was a virtual non-factor despite a season-high 25 carries. Bell's ill-advised attempt to reverse field on one outside run led to him being stuffed for an 11-yard loss. While the offensive line struggles are mostly to blame for his underwhelming production, plays like that make you wonder if he's lost a step or just isn't 100 percent at this stage of this season.
- Rookie Bless Austin had been a revelation for the Jets since being moved into the starting line-up. However, the Steelers tested him in off coverage in the first half and he struggled. Allowing Diontae Johnson to get behind him for a long touchdown when there were only nine seconds left in the first half was a disappointing lapse in concentration and one which was assuredly the reason Maurice Canady started in his place after halftime.
- Wide receiver Robby Anderson continues to boost his profile with his spectacular leaping touchdown grab in the first half providing a rare offensive highlight. However, he was mostly just used as a decoy because he had just one other catch. Darnold was held to 183 yards passing with Jamison Crowder's four catches for 60 yards leading the way.
- Rookie Quinnen Williams had one of his more productive games of the season, stuffing three runs, generating some interior pressure and registering a key fourth quarter sack that knocked the Steelers out of field goal range while the score was still only 13-10.
- The Jets had to overcome more shuffling on the offensive line, as Connor McDermott started his first game of the season at right guard due to Tom Compton being injured. They also ran a lot of six-man lines with Brent Qvale entering the game as a jumbo package tight end. McDermott had never previously played inside at the NFL level or even in college, but he had a few solid run blocks. While he struggled at times in pass protection, this performance might get the team thinking ahead to how they can best develop him to contribute next season.
- In a year where the Jets have been besieged by injuries from the get-go, it was ironic to see them winning a meaningless game thanks, in large part, to a series of injuries for the other team. Steelers starters were dropping like flies, including James Conner, Cameron Heyward and Maurkice Pouncey, and then they also lost Rudolph after he seemed to have them primed to make the comeback. For Pittsburgh, who can still make the postseason, this could be an extremely costly loss.
- The Jets travel to Buffalo next week to close out their season. The Bills have clinched a playoff spot, but it's possible their playoff seeding will depend on the result. Nevertheless, they may rest some of their starters, especially after what happened to the Steelers in today's game. For the Jets, other than a chance to avoid double-digit losses for an unprecedented fourth season in a row,this will mostly be about individual performers making one final effort to impress ahead of next season.