The Pittsburgh defense on Sunday made life miserable for Jets quarterback Geno Smith.
Statement game: The Steelers’ defense made a stand after an atrocious showing in a 34-27 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 29. The Steelers allowed their fewest points in a road game since 2008 (Washington), according to ESPN Stats & Information. They also showed how effective they can be when they force teams to play from behind -- when it comes to the sticks or the scoreboard. The Steelers didn’t allow the Jets to convert one time on a third down when New York needed at least 6 yards to move the chains. Two of the Steelers’ three sacks came on those third downs, and Geno Smith threw both of his interceptions when the Jets trailed by double digits. “Finally we got a lead to play with,” defensive end Brett Keisel said, “and we can do good things when teams are forced to throw the ball.”
LT still in flux: What is next for the Steelers at left tackle if Levi Brown is lost for the rest of the season with a torn right triceps? Kelvin Beachum played admirably Sunday as he settled down after a shaky start, but he is probably better suited for the interior of the line and is not a long-term fix at left tackle. If the Steelers need a stopgap while Beachum fills in until the coaches are ready to give Mike Adams another shot at left tackle, Max Starks is among the veteran offensive tackles who are unsigned. The Steelers brought back Starks in October 2011 after they cut ties with the two-time Super Bowl winner, so there is certainly precedence there.
A steady hand: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger impressed coach Mike Tomlin with his command of the game as much as his pinpoint passing. “He did a great job of communicating,” Tomlin said. “Sometimes in hostile environments that becomes difficult.” Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley did not have any communication issues even though the former initially disagreed with what turned into the call of the game. On third-and-1 from the Steelers’ 45-yard line early in the third quarter, Roethlisberger thought the Steelers would try to run for the first down. Haley called for a play-action pass and Roethlisberger hit a wide-open Emmanuel Sanders for a 55-yard touchdown. “That was a great call on his part,” Roethlisberger said of Haley. “I was a little hesitant at first. After we broke the huddle I thought that this was a good play call.”
Getting his kicks: The Steelers would have blown the Jets out had they been able to finish more drives. But what a weapon Shaun Suisham has become when the Steelers have to settle for field goals. The ninth-year veteran banged home four of them Sunday, including a pair from beyond 45 yards. Suisham has made 42 of his last 43 attempts inside of 50 yards. He has also made a personal-best 17 consecutive field goal attempts between 40 and 49 yards.