DeMarcus Van Dyke pressures Jets punt returner Jeremy Kerley into a fumble in the third quarter Sunday at Heinz Field.
By Gerry Dulac Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Goes to: S Ryan Clark
Clark did not play last week in Denver for medical reasons, but his return could not have come at a better time because of the absence of Troy Polamalu. All Clark did was lead the team with eight tackles, make several big stops in the run game and lead a secondary that allowed Mark Sanchez to complete just 6 of 22 passes for 58 yards after the first series. "He's such a difference maker for us, the way he plays," said DE Brett Keisel. "Ryan doesn't get as much credit as he deserves because he's playing next to Troy."
A quick look at the top performances from Sunday's game:
1. JUST BARELY: After scoring on their final possession of the first half for a 13-10 lead, the Steelers scored on the first possession of the third quarter to put the game away. And it happened when Roethlisberger stepped away from pressure by LB David Harris and lobbed a deep pass that Mike Wallace came back to catch in front of CB Antonio Cromartie for a 37-yard TD, narrowly getting his foot in bounds on the side of the end zone. "I knew I was close [to the line], so I just tried to jump straight up and come straight back down," Wallace said.
2. BIG CATCHES: TE Heath Miller caught only three passes for 19 yards, but one was a 1-yard touchdown off play-action that gave the Steelers a 13-10 lead. "I just ran to the pylon," Miller said. The other was a back-shoulder, 10-yard catch on third down that kept alive the Steelers' final scoring drive.
3. SACK ATTACK: The Steelers had only two sacks on Sanchez, but OLB LaMarr Woodley had the first on third-and-16 from the Jets 25. Five plays later, the Steelers parlayed the big play into Wallace's 37-yard TD for a 20-10 lead. "We let the offense go up and down the field in Denver," Woodley said. "We wanted to turn something around."
4. NOTHING PRETTY: It certainly wasn't a highlight-reel play, but Roethlisberger dodged the pressure on third-and-3 and stepped up to dump a short pass over the middle to former Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery for a 6-yard gain to the Jets 1. One play later, Miller scored to make it 13-10.
5. OFF HIS MARK: Sanchez ended the Jets' first possession of the game with a play-action pass that froze Ryan Clark and opened the inside for a 14-yard strike to Santonio Holmes, who beat Ike Taylor on the play. That gave the Jets a 7-0 lead, but Sanchez completed just six passes for 58 yards after that.
"You never want to have a losing streak in this league. We understand how important it is to get back on the winning track. Most good teams don't lose two in a row. We wanted to get that win today." -- Heath Miller, Steelers tight end
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
37: That's the number of games since the last time the Steelers lost back-to-back games, dating to Week 13 of the 2009 season. "This league is about responding to adversity," said DE Brett Keisel. "We know we didn't play our best game last week and you have to respond in this league if you want to get where you want to go."
WHAT WAS HE THINKING?
On three separate occasions, the Steelers unveiled a new wrinkle in their defense -- a 4-2-5 alignment in which they bring in two extra lineman and take OLBs LaMarr Woodley and Chris Carter out of the game. The idea is to get bigger bodies in the game, but the Jets threw on all three plays against the alignment. Still, does it make sense to take out your best pass-rusher in any defense? And what if James Harrison were healthy? "I don't think he would allow us to do it," said ILB Larry Foote, referring to Harrison. "Woodley is a little meeker."
X's AND O's
After lining up for eight plays behind center in the season opener, Jets backup QB Tim Tebow did not enter the game until 8:39 remained in the third quarter. And, on his first play in the Wildcat, he gained 22 yards up the middle. On the next play, RB Joe McKnight came in motion and took an inside handoff from Tebow for 12 more yards. But, the momentum quickly ended on the next play when Ryan Clark dropped RB Shonn Greene, who was shaken up earlier in the game, for a 6-yard loss. Tebow never returned. "It got them out of their Wildcat rhythm and it became regular football again," Clark said.
@ Oakland Raiders, 4:25 P.M. Sunday: The Steelers (1-1) go back on the road Sunday to play the Oakland Raiders (0-2). The Raiders lead the series, 13-12, have won two of the past three meetings and won the most recent game in Oakland, 20-13, in 2006.