New York Jets: 2013 Week 6 PIT at NYJ

Wilkerson laments the Ben that got away

October, 13, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Jets tried to make the day all about their defensive line.

Marty Lyons, a former member of the New York Sack Exchange, was inducted into the Ring of Honor at halftime. An honorary captain, he participated in the coin toss, flanked by former "New York Sack Exchange" teammates Mark Gastineau and Joe Klecko. Every member of the current defensive line joined the group, a link to then and now. It was as if the Jets were trying to send a message to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who had been struggling with pass protection.

But the Steelers got the last laugh.

The Jets finished with four sacks, but the 19-6 loss will be remembered for the one that got away. On the Steelers' second possession, Muhammad Wilkerson blew a chance to get a safety. He had Ben Roethlisberger in his clutches in the end zone, but Big Ben slithered away and threw a harmless incompletion.

"That's a big guy," Wilkerson told ESPN New York 98.7 FM. "We talked about it all week. I went up high on him, knowing I should've kind of went low. But he's a great quarterback. He slipped away and made the play for them."

It was a scoreless game. The Jets missed a great opportunity to seize the early momentum.

"If we get a safety there, we're up, 2-0, and those plays usually result in a nine-point turnaround," coach Rex Ryan said.

The Jets got good pressure on Roethlisberger in the second quarter, sacking him twice on one series. It looked as if they were going to dominate the Steelers' rebuilt offensive line, which included a new starter at left tackle, Kelvin Beachum. But the Steelers adjusted nicely, shifting to a quick-passing game. That offset the Jets' pass rush.

Roethlisberger finished 23-for-30, with 264 yards and a touchdown pass.

"They were trying to get the ball out of his hand pretty quickly, there's no question," Ryan said. "If you look at the start of the game, they had four or five screens almost in the first 10 plays. They were trying to slow us down a little bit."

And it worked. Wilkerson finally dropped Roethlisberger for a late sack, but it was too late.

Locker Room Buzz: New York Jets

October, 13, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Observed in the locker room after the New York Jets' 19-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium:

No consistency: Rex Ryan and several players lamented the team's lack of consistency on a week-to-week basis. In fact, the Jets (3-3) have managed only one two-game winning streak over the last 25 games -- and that occurred last season. "It sucks, man," linebacker Calvin Pace said. "We talk about how we want to be a playoff team, but to be a playoff team, you have to win more than one game [in a row]. If you win one, lose one, you're 8-8. We have to be better than that." Sitting a few feet away, the usually affable Sheldon Richardson refused to speak to the media. "It's called being mad as hell, and I don't want to talk to y'all," the rookie defensive tackle said.

Walking wounded: The Jets suffered four injuries -- CB Kyle Wilson (possible concussion), RB Mike Goodson (knee), WR Clyde Gates (shoulder) and RB Bilal Powell (shoulder), who insisted he was fine. That wasn't the case with Gates, who was seen in the locker room with his left arm in a sling. The Jets already are down a receiver, with Santonio Holmes (hamstring) likely to miss next Sunday's game against the New England Patriots. Losing Gates would hurt. Obviously, the backfield would take a hit without Powell and Goodson, whose injury could be serious.

Contradicting alibis: Geno Smith said his first interception, near the Steelers' goal line, was an intentional throwaway. Ryan gave a different version, saying he "would've liked to have seen him throw the ball away there and not force it." Looking at the replay, it sure looked like a forced throw into triple coverage. Graybeard S Ryan Clark read it perfectly and made the interception at the 1-yard line in the third quarter, ending Smith's streak of eight straight quarters without an interception.

Rapid Reaction: New York Jets

October, 13, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the New York Jets' 19-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium:

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.

Week 6 Prediction: Jets vs. Steelers

October, 11, 2013