- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
What it means: The Jets (3-3) can't handle prosperity. They've had just one two-game winning streak since late in the 2011 season. They needed to beat the struggling Steelers (1-4) because their schedule is about to increase in degree of difficulty, as they face the New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals and New Orleans Saints in consecutive weeks. The Jets, coming off a short week, were physically handled by the well-rested Steelers.
Stock watch: Let's put a hold on Geno Smith's Hall of Fame bust. After riding high for a week after last Monday night's electric performance, he was jarred back to reality by a tough Pittsburgh defense. Smith threw two interceptions, both in the red zone. The first was a poor decision into triple coverage for the Steelers' first takeaway of the season. Smith also failed to get his wide receivers involved in the offense. Clearly, he missed TE Kellen Winslow (suspended). You knew this wouldn't be easy. Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau had two weeks to prepare, and his game plan made the Jets look Tony Sparano-like. LeBeau is 16-2 against rookie quarterbacks (since 2004) for a reason.
Conservative Jets: Rex Ryan set a bad tone early when he opted for a chip-shot field goal on a fourth-and-1 from the Steelers' 2. Maybe he was spooked by the previous play, a zero-gain run by Bilal Powell. Ryan should've gone for it. Even if they had failed, his defense would've been in great field position. Truth be told, the Jets were conservative on offense throughout the first half, perhaps showing too much respect for LeBeau's defense. Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was cautious in his play calling, treating Smith with kid gloves -- a rarity.
Missing Darrelle Revis: It was a bad day for the Jets' cornerbacks, especially Antonio Cromartie, who was burned on a 55-yard touchdown pass and flagged for a 25-yard pass-interference penalty. In both cases, he had poor technique, allowing his man to beat him to the inside. Cromartie was listed as questionable because of a knee injury suffered last Thursday in practice, so it's possible he may have been slowed. But this was more than a Cromartie issue. Already without rookie Dee Milliner (hamstring), the Jets lost nickelback Kyle Wilson (possible concussion) in the first half. Seldom-used Isaiah Trufant was forced into the nickel role. Ben Roethlisberger (23-for-30, 264 yards) had an easy pitch-and-catch all day. The book is out on the Jets' defense -- vulnerable against controlled passing. In the past two games, Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan are a combined 59-for-75.
What's next: The Jets are home against the Patriots (4-1), who intercepted Smith three times in the Week 2 meeting.