Plays that shaped Steelers' season: No. 8

PITTSBURGH -- Here is the latest installment of the plays that shaped the Steelers’ season.

No. 8

The play: Emmanuel Sanders' 55-yard touchdown catch against the New York Jets.

The situation: The Steelers had settled for three field goals – and a 9-6 lead – before hitting a big play early in the third quarter. On third-and-2 from the Steelers’ 45 yard-line, offensive coordinator Todd Haley made one of his best play calls of the season. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger faked a handoff to Le’Veon Bell and Sanders sold an outside route before making a hard jab step to his right and taking off down the field. Sanders raced past Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie and Roethlisberger hit him in stride for the only touchdown of the game.

Why it mattered: The Steelers lugged an 0-4 record into MetLife Stadium, and they needed a win in the worst way following the franchise’s worst start since 1968. They had allowed the Jets to hang around in the first half and Sanders’ touchdown provided the separation the Steelers needed to cruise to a 19-6 win. Who knows what course the season would have taken had the Steelers lost to the Jets. They certainly would not have made a late postseason push or finished with a non-losing season. And their locker room would have become a very tense place had the Steelers lost their first five games of the season.