This game had a bad feel to it right from the opening kickoff as the Steelers let Brad Smith field the kick and run untouched straight up the field for a gimme touchdown. It was the big play the Jets needed and the big play the Steelers never got from one of their players.
The theme of the day was poor special teams by the Steelers and great special teams by New York. Punter Steve Weatherford consistently pinned the Steelers inside their own 5 yard line and Smith had a few other good kickoff returns. Field position was wildly unbalanced most of the contest and the Steelers never could turn it around.
Despite how horrendous he had looked in recent games against other top teams, Mark Sanchez played a solid football game. He didn’t do anything fancy, but made no mistakes. The Steelers desperately needed a turnover in this one and Sanchez wouldn’t falter.
Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense had their chances as well. They moved the ball well with a short passing attack most of the game and did great on 3rd downs. But drives fell apart around midfield or just into Jets territory and a last second drive saw two throws into the endzone fell incomplete.
The Steelers hurt themselves with personal foul calls as well. Ryan Clark was flagged 15 yards for a helmet-to-helmet hit on a Jets TD drive and Flozell Adams threw a wrench into a promising Pittsburgh drive after being called for a personal foul as well. It is definitely frustrating but the Steelers aren’t going to win a Super Bowl committing this many personal foul penalties. It is time to adjust.
The Steelers loss coupled with a big win by Baltimore against New Orleans severely complicate things for the Steelers. A playoff berth is still likely but it is going to be a down to the wire race for the bye and division title. With Troy Polamalu likely out for the rest of the regular season, no win is going to be a gimme.
This one really hurts.