Grounding the Jets: A Week 2 Analysis

Holding a team that scored 48 points in their first game to 10 points on the day? That’s more like it.

The Steelers looked like a different team on Sunday, as they manhandled the Jets 27-10 to avoid going 0-2 on the year.

The team looked a little sluggish out of the gate, and the absence of both James Harrison and Troy Polamalu looked like it affected the team early on, but the defense looked really sharp starting in the second half to stymie New York.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way early: the replacement referees were horrendous in this game. Between the phantom pass interference call on Ike Taylor, the bizarre way LaRon Landry’s late hits were alternatively called and ignored, and the debacle that was the Isaac Redman review, the refs had a negative impact on the game for both teams. Thankfully, none of their bad decisions seemed to have a major effect on the game’s outcome, but it was surely painful to watch for both squads.

Beyond that, there were still a lot of good things to take away for Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger proved that he can lift this offense to competence almost by himself, as when he’s paired with these explosive receivers, he doesn’t seem to be able to be stopped.

Sure, the running game has yet to take off. Watching the game, it felt as if Redman and Jonathan Dwyer were a lot more productive than they were, but they each averaged roughly two yards a carry, and neither eclipsed 20 yards. Even still, the line seemed more cohesive, even if they weren’t super effective. They still definitely have work to do, as they allowed three sacks in pass protection, and while they won’t be as good as they could’ve been had DeCastro stayed healthy, they still looked better.

The defense still has turnover issues, with the game’s lone turnover coming on a special teams play, but they looked pretty competent on the day.

Without Polamalu, I really thought the run defense would suffer, and while Shonn Greene looked good early on, they held the Jets to under 100 yards total on the ground. The defensive looked improved, as Cam Heyward even got a sack in, but they got a really good push on what is normally a solid Jets offensive line.

Even the secondary impressed me. Although Santonio Holmes burned them early, they played a really physical game that clearly got to New York’s receivers. It resulted in a few penalties, only some of which were completely earned, but they all seemed effective. It was particularly good to see Clark back, as he was all over the field in coverage, and laid some big hits on receivers as well.

The special teams shined as well, as Suisham nailed a pair of 45-yarders to keep the team in the game early, while punter Drew Butler downed three of his five punts inside the 20.

This is not to say the game was all roses; the running game is really starting to worry me, and Harrison’s health is growing very concerning. The pass rush is really suffering in Harrison’s absence and hasn’t been the same for some time now. Part of that is on the defensive line, who looked a little better in this game like I mentioned before, but a lot of that is one the linebackers. I can’t blame Woodley, as teams are obviously keying on him and he’s still been effective, but Worilds, Foote and Timmons have disappointed.

Maybe he’s just been used in coverage a bit more, but Timmons in particular hasn’t shown the same kind of promise he has in the last two years. He had a nice hurry of Sanchez in this game, but otherwise he didn’t really stand out, and if Harrison will be out much longer, then he’ll have to step up more.

Up next are the Raiders, who have always been a sneakily tough opponent for the Steelers. Going to the West coast is never ideal, although this will thankfully be a 4:25 start instead of 1 pm. It will be nice to see turnover-prone Carson Palmer once again, and hopefully this Jets win will be the start of a successful stretch for the team.

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