Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger warms up prior to the Jets game Sunday at Heinz Field.
By Gerry Dulac Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
It was a near flawless performance from Ben Roethlisberger, who did everything from deftly stepping away from pressure to lobbing a perfect 37-yard touchdown to Mike Wallace. He passed for 275 yards and two touchdowns without an interception and spread the ball to 10 different receivers. And, on the 10-minute, 13-second drive that iced the game, he was 5 for 5 for 47 yards and converted four third downs.
It was not a standout performance by any means, not when Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer combined for 53 yards on 24 carries, an average of 2.2 yards per carry. But, when they needed to rely on the run, the two combined for 31 yards on eight carries on the more than 10-minute scoring drive. And it was Redman who capped the drive and iced the game with a 2-yard touchdown run that was a great second effort.
Antonio Brown caught a team-high seven passes for 79 yards, none bigger than a stretching 9-yarder on third down to keep alive the final scoring drive. A great catch by Wallace, as well, to come back to the ball and keep his feet inbounds on a 37-yard touchdown. Emmanuel Sanders made a pair of big catches on the first touchdown drive and tight end Heath Miller had two big catches -- a 1-yard touchdown and a back-shoulder 10-yard catch on third-and-3.
Not a good day running the ball when the Steelers managed just 66 yards on 28 carries against a team that allowed a league-high 195 a week earlier. What's more, they had six runs for negative yards. Roethlisberger was sacked three times and had to step away from a number of pressures to make plays. But, all in all, the line did a good job reading and reacting to the Jets' pressure. Left tackle Max Starks was solid again.
The Jets rushed for 90 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per attempt, but 34 of those yards came on two plays when Tim Tebow came in to run the Wildcat. That was really the only time they appeared confused. Otherwise, Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell combined for 56 yards on 20 carries. Defensive end Brett Keisel had five tackles and the line did a good job creating gaps for inside pressure from linebackers Lawrence Timmons and Larry Foote.
Playing without James Harrison for the second game in a row, the unit got a big game from LaMarr Woodley, who had a sack and several hurries on Mark Sanchez. Lawrence Timmons was noticeable in the first half, creating pressure on Sanchez and blowing up run lanes, but he will be fined for his late hit to the head on Sanchez. After completing 4 of his first 5 passes for 80 yards, Sanchez was just 6 of 22 for 58 yards the rest of the way.
Ryan Clark stepped up with Troy Polamalu out and was outstanding in his first game of the season, posting a team-high eight tackles that included a big tackle for a loss to disrupt the Wildcat. Clark, though, did bite on a play-action fake on the first Jets touchdown. Cornerback Ike Taylor got beat inside on a 14-yard touchdown to Santonio Holmes and also had two penalties in the first half, but Holmes was targeted 11 times and caught only three passes.
It was the second sterling performance in a row for this unit. Shaun Suisham hit a pair of 45-yard field goals in the first half to remain perfect on four attempts. But, maybe more important, he continues to kick off deep or through the end zone. Seven of his 11 kickoffs have not been returned. Drew Butler had another punt downed deep in opposing territory, this time at the Jets 6 in the third quarter.
The offense continues to show variety, diversity and a penchant for controlling the ball. And, after allowing the Jets to score on their first two possessions, the defense brought more pressure and never allowed them to score again. In a game in which the Steelers were without two All-Pro performers on defense, they rose to the occasion and did what they seem to do best -- not lose back-to-back games.