Drive of the Game: Cro gets torched

October, 14, 2013
10/14/13
10:20
AM ET
A look back at the key drive in the New York Jets' 19-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers:

The Drive: Three plays, 64 yards. A 55-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Emmanuel Sanders with 12:30 remaining in the third quarter.

The Situation: After five field goals in the first half, it was shaping up as an old-school, defensive struggle between two top-10 defenses. Ahead 9-6, the Steelers got the ball after the Jets went three-and-out on their first possession of the third quarter. Roethlisberger took over at his own 36.

What Happened: Rex Ryan took a chance, using "zero" coverage (no deep safety), and he got burned. On a third-and-1, the Jets sold out to stop the run, with safety Dawan Landry near the line of scrimmage. Roethlisberger froze the defense with a hard play-fake to running back Le'Veon Bell. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie was in man-to-man coverage on Sanders and he made three mistakes. He peeked into the backfield, expecting a run. He let Sanders make an inside move on him -- a no-no when there's no deep safety. Finally, Cromartie didn't get his hips turned fast enough, allowing Sanders to blow by him. Sanders was wide open for an easy pitch and catch.

The Impact: Cromartie's reaction on the sideline said it all. After studying the eye-in-the-sky photo of the play, he crumpled the paper and tossed it away. It turned out to be the only touchdown of the game, and that was enough for the Steelers on a day in which the Jets' offense managed next to nothing.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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