Game review: What might have been

January, 25, 2011
1/25/11
10:46
PM ET
Final thoughts and observations on the Jets' 24-19 loss in Pittsburgh:

KILLER KICKOFF: One of the most damaging plays was Antonio Brown's 27-yard kickoff return with three minutes to play. The good field position allowed the Steelers to be more aggressive on offense, sealing the Jets' demise. The Jets made the right decision by kicking deep -- no need for an onsides kick with three timeouts left -- but there was poor execution.

Nick Folk's kickoff was short (to the 14) and the coverage was sloppy. Brown slipped through the initial wave of would-be tacklers, Joe McKnight, Drew Coleman and James Ihedigbo. There was no reason for this, as the Steelers had their "hands" team on the field. The Steelers may have caught a break because Lawrence Timmons could've been flagged for clipping on Eric Smith.

WHAT WAS HE THINKING?: Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is taking heat for his play calling at the goal line, but the call that deserves to be ripped is his third-and-17 pass with 1:23 left in the first half. Down 17-0, Schottenheimer panicked. He should've taken the conservative approach and punted it back to the Steelers, getting the hell off the field and into the locker room. But he put Mark Sanchez in shotgun, taking an unnecessary risk. What were the odds of converting third-and-17? Maybe 10 percent?

The Steelers pulled a page out of the Jets' defensive playbook, a backside blitz with two DBs -- and Ike Taylor recorded a strip sack that resulted in a fumble recovery and touchdown. Sometimes you have to know when to say "uncle," and this was one of those times. In the end, Sanchez's fumble loomed large.

ACCIDENTAL PICK: The Jets caught an unlucky break on Ben Roethlisberger's 2-yard TD run. Roethlisberger broke containment to his right and went easily in the end zone, perhaps because LB Bart Scott was late on the scene. Scott was late because teammate Darrelle Revis, running across the formation to stay with in-motion receiver Mike Wallace, ran into him. LB Bryan Thomas was in the area, but he covered RB Rashard Mendenhall in the flat.

LAST TWO DAGGERS: On Roethlisberger's 14-yard completion to Heath Miller, Scott came free on a blitz, but he took a false step toward the inside -- a reaction to play action. That allowed Roethlisberger to break to his right, providing an extra second to find Miller. How Brodney Pool didn't bat down the pass is hard to figure.

On Big Ben's 14-yard pass to Antonio Brown, the final dagger, DT Mike DeVito pinched inside and let Roethlisberger break containment. That's all he needed to make his brilliant throw to Brown.

THIS AND THAT: Rob Turner replaced C Nick Mangold (hamstring) for five plays and did a nice job ... NT Sione Pouha had a nice season, but this wasn't one of his better games, especially considering he faced a backup center most of the game ... Gutty effort by WR Jerricho Cotchery, coming back from a painful leg injury ... Roethlisberger's passer rating (35.5) shows that ratings can be bogus. He played a terrific game, making so many plays (passing and running) with improv ... Outstanding games in coverage by Revis and Antonio Cromartie, but Cromartie had two costly penalties.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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