Jets quarterback Geno Smith drops back to pass against the Atlanta Falcons earlier this month.
By Gerry Dulac Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
When the Jets have the ball: Like the Steelers, the Jets have made a habit of giving the ball away, committing 12 turnovers, most in the AFC. But their running game averages 4.1 yards per carry and passing game averages 222.8 yards per game. The Steelers have allowed runs of 55 and 60 yards and passes of 51, 61 and 70 yards, all in the past three games. That could be a problem against rookie QB Geno Smith, who is tied for first in the league with 40-plus yard completions (5) and is seventh in completions of 20 yards or longer (20). RB Bilal Powell has rushed for 149 and 66 yards in the past two games. Smith utilizes tight ends -- Kellen Winslow Jr. and Jeff Cumberland -- something that gave the Steelers problems against the Bengals. Winslow will be out because of a four-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs. But Smith also spreads the ball to a number of receivers, including former Steelers' WR Santonio Holmes, although Holmes has been limited by a Lisfranc injury.
When the Steelers have the ball: The Jets are second in the league in total defense and rush defense, and one of the reasons is their tandem of defensive ends in the 3-4 -- rookie Sheldon Richardson (21/2 sacks, 8 QB hurries) and Muhammad Wilkerson (4 sacks). But, like the Steelers, they don't intercept the ball or force many turnovers. The Jets have just three takeaways (two fumble recoveries, one interception), third fewest in the AFC. LB David Harris leads the team with 49 tackles. OLB Calvin Pace will come in blitz situations and has 301/2 sacks since 2008. The Jets traded All-Pro CB Darrelle Revis after an injury-shortened 2012 season and replaced him with rookie Dee Milliner, their No. 1 draft choice. Milliner has been slowed by a hamstring injury. S Dawan Landry has the team's only interception. The Jets, who rank 13th in the league against the pass, will have to stop Ben Roethlisberger, who has passed for 789 yards and three TDs in the past three games. But Roethlisberger has 16 turnovers (seven lost fumbles) in his past eight games dating to last season.
Keep an eye on:
Ks Nick Folk and Shaun Suisham ... The two have not missed a field goal in 17 attempts this season. Folk, the Jets' kicker, has converted all 11 field goal attempts, including the winning 43-yarder with no time remaining in Atlanta on Monday night. He has converted six field goals between 40 and 49 yards. Suisham is perfect on all six attempts, including two from 44 yards. He had two field goals in the loss to the Vikings in London.
The Steelers are off to their worst start since 1968 and have allowed the most points in four games (110) since that same season. ...The Steelers have won the past two meetings with the Jets, including postseason, but the Jets have won the past two meetings at home. The Jets are 2-0 at home this season and are coming off a big comeback victory in Atlanta, 30-28. ... The Steelers face the Jets on the road for the first time since 2007, but it is not their first game in MetLife Stadium. They defeated the New York Giants there in November. . ... The Steelers' 81.8 percent winning percentage vs. the Jets in regular season and postseason combined is their best against any team they have faced at least 20 times.
To win, the Jets must ...
1. Make a splash. The Steelers defense has been vulnerable to big plays, giving up five of 50-plus yards in the past three games.
2. Ring Bell. Rookie RB Le'Veon Bell had 57 yards rushing and 27 yards receiving in his NFL debut against the Vikings.
3. Get A.C. on A.B. They will use CB Antonio Cromartie to slow Antonio Brown, who has 21 catches for 284 yards in his past two games.
To win, the Steelers must ...
1. Be mean-o with Geno. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has a 16-2 lifetime record against rookie quarterbacks.
2. Bend the ends. Wilkerson and Richardson have been a disruptive force in the D-line, accounting for 6.5 sacks and 16 QB hurries.
3. Take the ball, please. They are the only team in the league without a takeaway in 2013 after being minus-10 in turnover margin a season ago.