Ziggy Hood (96) tackles New York Jets’ Geno Smith (7) during the second half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Steelers won 19-6. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
When the final seconds ticked off the clock, the score read Steelers 19, Jets 6. The first victory of the 2013 season came not a moment too soon for the black and gold. Coming into the game at 0-4; the team knew that they could ill afford a fifth consecutive loss to open the year.
They played like they knew it too. Big Ben Roethlisberger was nearly flawless throughout the entire game as he completed 23 of 30 passes for 264 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders was as spot on as any throw all day. Also spot on was the play of Antonio Brown who over the past few games has emerged as the true number one threat of this offense.
The shakeup of the offensive line didn’t seem to do much good in regards to the protection of Big Ben as he was sacked four times, hit 6 more and again pressured throughout the contest. That, however, can be overlooked when you win ball games.
Also easy to overlook is the poor output in yardage from the running game. Starter LeVeon Bell only managed 34 yards on the ground. Despite that, the way Bell ran was impressive. He ran with force and a good burst of speed to go along with it. Low production or not, Bell is the true feature back on this team.
The story of the day however has to be the defense. On this day, the defense played like the Steelers of old. They blitzed rookie Geno Smith and sacked him 3 times. They also forced him into two interceptions, the teams’ first two turnovers on the year. They got after the ball and seemed to make plays in critical situations all game long. They played with a purpose, something that seemed to lack the first few weeks.
Coaching has to be commended this week as well. They clearly motivated this team to get out there and get it done. They convinced their players the season isn’t lost, there’s a lot of football left and that despite the 0-4 start they are still in this race.
Only time will tell if that is actually the case but for at least one Sunday in October, they were right and the Steelers were victorious.
Notes and Superlatives:
Game Ball: Big Ben-He has emerged as the leader of this team and his nearly flawless game helped lead the charge to victory.
Play of the Game: It may not have been the most impactful play, but Troy Polamalu’s hit on Jets WR Stephen Hill was one for the ages.
Mike Tomlin took away all games from the locker room this week, banning all players from Ping Pong, Pool and Shuffleboard etc.
Brett Keisel injured his ribs during the game but it doesn’t sound serious.
Will Johnson injured his hand and it does appear to be serious at this point.
1-4, up next Vs. Baltimore on 10/20
Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association www.steelnationassociation.com- Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.