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Monday, September 17, 2012
Report Card: Cover your eyes

By Rich Cimini

PITTSBURGH -- Grading the Jets' 27-10 loss to the Steelers: It ain't pretty, folks.



The longest run of the day was Tim Tebow's 22-yarder in the third quarter. What does that tell you? In fact, 28 of the 90 rushing yards came when Tebow was in the game. For all the talk about Ground & Pound, the Jets have managed only 208 rushing yards in two games. Shonn Greene had a couple of opportunities to get into the secondary, but he didn't have enough acceleration. They tried to shake up the line, using Vlad Ducasse for a few series at left guard, but that didn't help. Well, at least they converted a couple of third-and-1 plays; short yardage was a problem in the preseason.



It wasn't like they committed a ton of big mistakes (two sacks, no interceptions); it was just ... well, flat. After a 4-for-5 start, including 45-yard seam pass to Jeremy Kerley and a 14-yard TD to Santonio Holmes, QB Mark Sanchez hit the skids. After the opening drive, he was only 6-for-22 for 58 yards. It's not often you see numbers like that in the NFL. It wasn't all his fault. The receivers, especially rookie Stephen Hill (no catches), couldn't beat press coverage. It disrupted eveything. The Sanchez-Holmes chemistry was brutal. Sanchez targeted Holmes 11 times, completing just three. Holmes had two drops, but he drew four penalties.



Hard to find any fault with the run defense. The Jets absolutely bottled up the Steelers, holding them to 66 yards on the ground. They mixed their fronts, going back and forth between a 3-4 and 4-3 on base downs. The return of NT Sione Po'uha clogged the middle, but he had help. LB Garrett McIntyre, starting for the injured Bryan Thomas, played his best game -- six tackles, two sacks and four tackles for loss. Thomas could get Wally Pipped. DE Muhammad Wilkerson and LB David Harris also played well at the point of attack.



Without CB Darrelle Revis, the secondary was ripe for the picking. QB Ben Roethlisberger (24-for-31, 275 yards, 2 TDs) was the best player on the field, constantly extending plays by sliding in the pocket. It was his highest completion percentage since Week 4 of the 2009 season. He spread the ball to 10 different receivers, always finding the right matchup. The Jets got occasional pressure on him, but he responded. Roethlisberger was 5-for-6 for 74 yards when under duress, according to ESPN Stats & Information -- including a 37-yard TD to Mike Wallace. That was horrible coverage by CB Antonio Cromartie. S LaRon Landry (two penalties for 30 yards) had a rough game.



Tough league, the NFL. One week you're a rock star, the next week you're dirt. Welcome to Jeremy Kerley's world. Kerley, who scored last week on a punt return, muffed a punt in the third quarter. He called it a "selfish" play, saying he should've taken the fair catch. It didn't cost them the game, but it cost them a possession and field position -- killers.



This was a tough spot for the Jets, who didn't have their best player (Revis) in a hostile environment. It would've taken an unbelievable performance to ruin the Steelers' home opener -- and they came up way short. The Jets came out on fire, but they couldn't sustain it -- and that's a bit troubling. Simply put, Mike Tomlin made better adjustments than Rex Ryan. Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano mixed and matched his personnel packages, emphasizing pass protection. He could've been more creative in trying to get the ball in the hands of his receivers, who struggled to beat press coverage. Defensively, they were one step behind Roethlisberger all day. Without Revis, they played more zone than usual, but Roethlisberger found the soft spots. They got beat by an elite quarterback.