Before the season started, the Steelers’ game against the Jets shaped up as a matchup between a 3-2 team and a winless squad still trying to find its way. Who would have guessed, though, that the Steelers would qualify as the latter?
The Jets, team turmoil in 2012, have emerged as one of the early surprises this season. They shocked the Falcons, 30-28, Monday night in Atlanta behind the splendid play of rookie quarterback Geno Smith, and they take a winning record into their Sunday game against the Steelers.
Smith threw a trio of touchdown passes and led a game-winning drive after the Jets had squandered a 13-point lead. Just as significant in one of the biggest upsets of the season was the play of the Jets’ defensive line. The Jets dominated the Falcons up front, making it more imperative for the Steelers to shore up left tackle before Sunday.
Levi Brown, acquired last Thursday in a trade with the Cardinals, practiced for the first time with the Steelers Monday and early indications are that he will be given every opportunity to win the starting job.
The game will be a homecoming of sorts for Steelers wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery.
Cotchery played his first seven seasons with the Jets, and he is coming off his first 100-yard receiving game with the Steelers. The 10th-year veteran should continue to play a big role in the passing game, benefitting from the extra attention afforded to No. 1 wide receiver Antonio Brown.
The Steelers’ lack of takeaways have been well documented. Just as problematic are the 11 turnovers the Steelers have committed through the first quarter of the season. The Steelers are making a run at a dubious record due to the frequency with which they have turned the ball over.
The Steelers are relatively healthy following their bye, and the biggest question mark is starting left guard Ramon Foster. The fifth-year veteran is nursing a pectoral strain, and a decision on his availability for Sunday won’t be made until near the end of the week.