GAME BALL goes to: QB Ben Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger's impact on this game went well beyond his numbers, which, compared to his 789 passing yards in the previous two games, paled by comparison. But for the first time this season, and only the second time in the past nine games, he did not commit a turnover. What's more, he made the big play to start the second half, turning a nice fake to Le'Veon Bell into a 55-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders. "Aside from his play, I thought he did a good job communicating with players and staff in the midst of it all," coach Mike Tomlin said.
THE COUNTDOWN: A quick look at the top performances from Sunday's game:
1 BIG STRIKE: After three Shaun Suisham field goals gave them a 9-6 halftime lead, the Steelers scored their only touchdown on the first possession of the second half. And they fooled the Jets, especially Pro Bowl cornerback Antonio Cromartie, by using a run formation and play action to free wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders for a 55-yard touchdown. "For coach [Todd] Haley, that was a great call on his part," Roethlisberger said. "I looked up and saw Emmanuel running by himself and my only thought in my head was don't overthrow him."
2 TAKEAWAY NO. 1: The Steelers were the only NFL team without a takeaway in the first four games, but they came up with their first when S Ryan Clark intercepted a Geno Smith pass at the Steelers 1 in the third quarter, right after the Steelers had taken a 16-6 lead.
3 CAM SLAM: On third-and-1 at the Steelers 2 in the first quarter, DE Cam Heyward made a big stop for no gain on RB Bilal Powell, forcing the Jets to settle for a field goal. "We talked all week how they liked to run in close near the goal line," Heyward said. "I felt like I was ready for it."
4 TAKEAWAY NO. 2: With less than three minutes remaining, the defense came up with its second takeaway when ILB Lawrence Timmons intercepted a wobbly pass from Smith at the Steelers 3 and returned it 23 yards. The turnover was forced when OLB Jarvis Jones hit Smith as he was about to throw.
5 MILLER TIME: On second-and-18 from his 35, tight end Heath Miller made a nice catch over safety Antonio Allen for a 31-yard gain to the Jets 34, setting up the second of Suisham's field goals to make it 6-3.
"There was nothing mystical about it. We maintained possession of the football and we got the football. In particular, we got the football in the red area. That was significant. Hopefully it was a springboard of things to come. It is a good feeling. Not like you won the lottery, but a good feeling nonetheless."
-- Mike Tomlin
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
That's the number of quarters the Steelers had gone without a takeaway until S Ryan Clark's interception at the Steelers 1 in the third quarter. It was the first turnover produced by the defense since CB Cortez Allen forced a fumble in the fourth quarter of their 2012 season finale against the Browns.
WHAT WAS HE THINKING?
It could have been a worse start for LT Kelvin Beachum, especially when DE Muhammad Wilkerson beat him easily to the inside and looked as though he would sack Ben Roethlisberger in the end zone for a safety on the second series. But, as the replacement for demoted starter Mike Adams, Beachum eventually settled down, even though he was called for two holding penalties. And that was good for the Steelers because Adams was deactivated and newcomer Levi Brown injured his triceps tendon in warmups. "I gave up that pressure right away and I thought, 'I got to get it done,' " Beachum said. "I can't have Ben running for his life back there."
X's AND O's
The Steelers had not had a second-half lead in their first four games. But, with the score 19-6 with just under eight minutes remaining, Roethlisberger went to offensive coordinator Todd Haley and asked him to stop calling pass plays and rely on the running game. The result: The Steelers ran on eight of the next nine plays for 27 yards. On the play they didn't, Roethlisberger deliberately took a sack to avoid a turnover. "I went over to coach Haley and said, 'Listen, no more passes. Let's have a mindset [of grinding it out] right here. He agreed with me."
The Steelers (1-4) return home to play the Baltimore Ravens (3-3) at 4:25 p.m. Sunday at Heinz Field. The Steelers have lost three of the past four meetings with the Ravens, including the past two at home.
Gerry Dulac: email@example.com. First Published October 13, 2013 8:00 PM