PITTSBURGH -- Santonio Holmes and Ike Taylor are not strangers, as the New York Jets wideout and Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback were teammates during Holmes' first four NFL seasons and the two also train together in the offseason.
Holmes and Taylor renewed their on-field rivalry for the third time Sunday at Heinz Field, and each side could claim several in-game victories. But since the Steelers won 27-10, Taylor certainly would hold bragging rights.
"We're friends and competitors,'' Taylor said. "He expects the best out of me, and I expect the best out of him. We gave it to each other today, but in the end we won the game. And that's all that matters.''
Holmes was targeted 11 times, and Taylor was called for two penalties to go with Holmes' three catches for 28 yards. His biggest catch of the day was a 14-yard touchdown toss from Mark Sanchez to cap the Jets' opening drive, but there were some drops on the day as well.
"I have to take my hat off to those guys,'' Holmes said. "He played pretty good. He played physical the whole game, just like I expected. And we came out on the short end of the stick this week.''
The Jets' opening drive was spectacular, as Sanchez led an eight-play, 90-yard march in 4:48. Sanchez was never sharper than he was in the opening possession, as he hit Holmes for 11 to get out of the hole. Holmes drew a 12-yard pass interference on Taylor after an incompletion, and Sanchez hit Jeremy Kerley for 45 to seriously change the field position battled.
But it didn't end there. Shonn Greene lost three yards on first down from the 21, but Sanchez hooked up with Clyde Gates for 10. On third-and-three, Holmes beat Taylor on a slant, and Sanchez connected for the 14-yard score. Holmes would catch just one more pass the rest of the way.
"I couldn't tell you if they made any adjustments after that,'' Holmes said. "We played as hard as we could, and we'll get in and assess everything when we look at the film (Monday). ... We couldn't get off the field on third down on defense, and we really didn't do a good job converted our third downs on offense.
"That's where the game was won or lost. We really didn't have a hard time doing anything. It was just one of those days that we didn't convert the plays. We got pass-interference calls to move the chains, but everything will be assessed when we look at the film, and I get my receiver's grades.''
Jets coach Rex Ryan was asked if Holmes needs to "bring more to the playing field with his current salary.'' Ryan said that any blame for the loss should be shared by the coaches and the players.
"It doesn't matter how much money a guy's making or not making or whatever,'' Ryan said. "We have to play a lot better than we did today, and we have to coach a lot better than we did today.''
Holmes was asked to grade his own performance, but he said he couldn't do that. That's the coaches' job, and the players just go out and play hard.