The Steelers took care of business Sunday by beating the New York Jets, 27-10, to move into a tie with the Baltimore Ravens, and Cincinnati Bengals on top of the AFC North. Now they must continue this play on both sides of the ball against the constantly rebuilding Oakland Raiders.
Mark Sanchez was coming off the best game of his brief career against the Buffalo Bills, but even without its two best players, James Harrison, and Troy Polamalu, the Steelers defense dominated the Jets after the first half.
|BIG SACK—LaMarr Woodley (56) celebrates after sacking Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez while teammate Chris Carter (54) looks on. (Courier Photos/William McBride)
The Jets were able to put together two outstanding drives that led to a 10-6 lead, but it was all Steelers from that point on, holding Sanchez to a mere 138 yards passing.
During the two drives, ex-Steeler Santonio Holmes was the featured receiver, but he was shut out for the rest of the game. He had only 3 catches for 38 yards, but did cause two pass interference calls on Ike Taylor. But the defensive backs didn’t back down, shutting the passing game down in the second half.
Even though the running game was still not impressive without Rashard Mendenhall, they kept the defense honest with Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer sharing the ball. They picked up only 53 yards on 20 carries, and most of that was in the final quarter.
Just like they did in the Denver Broncos game, the offense controlled the ball with far more time as the Jets offense sat, but not on the ground. Even though the Steelers tried to get the running game going, it was through the air in which they were most affective with Ben Roethlisberger, 24 of 31 for 275 yards and 2 touchdowns, throwing to his two talented young receivers, Antonio Brown, 7 catches for 79 yards and one touchdown; and Mike Wallace, 5 catches for 74 yards. Also contributing were Heath Miller, 3 catches for 19 yards and a touchdown, and Emmanuel Sanders, 3 catches for 33 yards.
The Raiders record dropped to 0-2 after a lopsided 34-13 defeat at the hands of the lowly Miami Dolphins. They opened the season with a 22-14 loss to the San Diego Chargers. Neither team, the Dolphins or the Chargers are expected to be in the playoffs this season.
Carson Palmer was supposed to be their savior, but he hasn’t done too much since he’s been there. He was 24 of 48 for 373 yards with one touchdown and one interception. His top receivers were Brandon Myers, 6-86; Darrius Heyward-Bey, 4-41, Mike Goodson, 3-83 and Denarius Moore, 3-67.
Palmer had to throw the ball 48 times because the Dolphins shut down the run. Darren McFadden was the leading rusher with only 22 yards on 11 carries.
Maybe the Steelers can get their running game on track against a Raiders defense that gave up 172 yards on 26 carries to Reggie Bush.
The Ravens lost their first game of the season, 24-23, in the last minutes on a drive by Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles, who won their second straight one point game from an AFC North team. Meanwhile the Bengals beat the Cleveland Browns, 34-27, in a surprisingly tough game, dropping the Browns to the cellar.
The Browns have been surprisingly tough, and if these young players can continue to get better, look for them to upset some people before the season is out. But you never know about Cleveland, another loss may totally discourage these young players and they may totally come apart.
The same is true of the Raiders. Even though they have a veteran quarterback, most of the key players are youngsters who may get better or worse. One thing is sure, they had better grow up fast if they expect to beat the Steelers. But on the other side of the coin a victory over the Steelers would make their season, so they will be prepared and hyped up.