It was one small step, one first victory. It was not perfect, but it came against a team with a winning record on its home field.
It included -- miracle of miracles -- not one, but two turnovers, which were, famously, the first of the season.
Ben Roethlisberger was sharp, the defense came up with one of its best performances of this short season and the result of all this was a 19-6 win of the New York Jets this afternoon.
There still were shortcomings. The running game showed only small signs of improvement. There were too many field goals that might have been touchdowns.
But it was a harbinger of better days ahead. With the struggling Baltimore Ravens, soundly beaten by Green Bay today, at Heinz Field next week and with a game at the Oakland Raiders the week after, the Steelers have the opportunity to get back into the AFC North race.
The defense held the Jets and rookie quarterback Geno Smith to two field goals. The Jets are not a great offense but they had been averaging 20 points a game.
The turnovers came on interceptions by Ryan Clark and Lawrence Timmons.
Roethlisberger was especially sharp, completing 23 of 30 passes for 164 yards and one touchdown. He was not intercepted and had a passer rating of 113.7. After completing only two of his first five to start the game, he completed 12 of his final 13 passes of the first half with the only incompletion being a drop by Antonio Brown, which would have been a touchdown.
Brown otherwise had another strong day, catching nine balls for 86 yards. Heath Miller, looking to be at full strength after a long recuperation from knee surgery, caught six passes for 84 yards. Emmanuel Sanders had the big play of the day, a 55-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger.
That was the Steelers only touchdown as they too often had to go to kicker Shaun Suisham, who was good on all four of his attempts -- 45, 33, 48 and 32 yards.
There were negatives. The running game was non-existent in the first half -- 12 yards, as rooke Le'Veon Bell carried eight times for nine yards. The Steelers ended with a 2.8-yard average, 73 yards on 26 carries. Bell carried 16 times for 34 yards. Felix Jones had 18 yards on five carries.
Not only was their no running room, but Roethlisberger was sacked three times. They might be viewed as an improvement but it's still not good enough.
The Steelers led, 9-6 at the half and 16-6 after three quarters.
In addition to Baltimore losing, the Cleveland Browns were beaten by Detroit. The Cincinnati Bengals were the only other AFC North team to win, getting past Buffalo in overtime.
The standings look like this: Cincinnati 4-2; Baltimore and Cleveland 3-3; Steelers 1-4.
First Published October 13, 2013 12:06 PM