Well, I told you all how much I hate the Jets, and I'm already gearing up for the s**tstorm I'm gonna be receiving tomorrow. It seems that God likes watching me squirm, as now 3 of the 4 all-time losses the Steelers have had to the Jets have come in my lifetime.
Starting off with the obvious:
Arians is going to be called out more than ever this week for a bone-head play call down inside the Steelers own 5 yard line which resulted in a safety, and ultimately sealed the deal with a little more than 3 minutes left in the game. To be fair, Johnathan Scott completely missed Jason Taylor who promptly threw Moore into the end zone for the safety, so there is something to be said for a failure to execute on the part of the players (I believe Scott was benched or hurt following the play), but the decision to call a HB draw, a delayed handoff of sorts when you are backed up on your own 3 yard line is mind-boggling to me. Just run it normally, straight up the gut. It wasn't just this play that made Arians look bad however. For some reason Arians was attempting to make us into the Colts or Patriots, by passing like crazy to set up the run, clearly something this team is not built around. Surprisingly it did have a fair amount of success for the majority of the game, but Arians refused to commit to the ground game which was next to unstoppable. The Steelers offensive line, sans the safety, had it's best game of the season, giving Big Ben ample time to throw for just about the entirety of the game, and dominated the Jets defensive line when it came to the ground game. Mendenhall was averaging well over 5 yards a carry, and really it begs the question why Arians wouldn't want to pound the rock more so as to keep a Polamaluless defense on the sidelines as much as possible. I will say this: if we ever get an above average offensive line for Big Ben, he's gonna put up some monster numbers in the future. He proved today that given time, he can tear you up. It was what appeared to be (and correct me if I'm wrong on this guys) a Matt Spaeth dropped pass in the back of the endzone on the second-to-last play of the game, that prevented this game from being another one of Roethlisberger's legendary last-second comebacks.
This leads to my next point. Troy Polamalu is THE player in this defense, don't let anyone say differently. Smith, Harrison, and Woodley are not far behind, but with out the flowing locks of our beloved number 43 in the secondary, this defense really lacks a home-run hitting ability. Ryan Mundy, to his credit, played well in this game, in fact I'd rate his play as a B-B+. He'd made a huge deflection on 3rd and 2 with just over 2 minutes to go to give the Steelers an opportunity for that final drive, and he was not a liability in any stage of the game. He was unable to catch Brad Smith on the opening kickoff that ended up being the difference in this one, but aside from that I was impressed.
I said earlier in the week that I actually kind of liked the fact that NFL continuely calls these bull crap personal foul penalties on a weekly basis as it provides the team with a necessary form of adversity that respond so well to, provided it doesn't cost us the game. There were two such calls that did cost us the game today. First, the Ryan Clark unnecessary roughness call was ridiculous. Phil Simms, whose opinion I've come to respect, was trying to say Clark lead with his helmet-I believe the call was helmet-to-helmet contact-which was unavoidable seeing as how the receiver, 6'3" Braylon Edwards, was suspended in mid-air and Clark was merely trying to tackle him. Clark ended up hitting Edwards in the collar bone, and the refs threw the flag, adding 15 precious yards to the end of the catch, setting up the Jets with great field position. The Jets capitalized and scored a few plays later. The second was actually a no call on the final drive of the game in which Emmanuel Sanders (who had a really nice game) torched some Jet's DB and was on his way to the end zone, when the Jet defender clearly grabbed a hold of Sanders jersey and pulled him back slightly, but just enough to keep Sanders from catching what could have been the game tying TD catch. Had the play been called correctly, it would have been first and goal Steelers with plenty of time to punch in a game-winning touchdown. Such is the nature of the game, but at this point it's ridiculous how one-sided the officiating is becoming against the Steelers. I understand that there were more penalties called against the Jets in this one, and we may have even have gotten a favorable first down ruling on our first scoring drive, but the magnitude of those two blown calls were of far-and-away greater significance.
As I sort of mentioned above, Ben Roethlisberger, Emmanuel Sanders, and even Ryan Mundy had notable games. The Steelers line, outside the safety, had one of its best games of the year. The defense didn't collapse, but it didn't dominate, so that was kind of neutral. The red zone offense did the job today, excluding the final and most important drive, so take it with a grain of salt, but they scored two touchdowns on 3 attempts. Despite only carrying the ball 19 times, Rashard Mendenhall had a really good game totaling 100 yards and a TD.
Looking forward, I'm not sure what our playoff stance is at this point. I heard we made it in, even with the loss today, but I need someone to confirm that. UPDATE, yea we did clinch a playoff spot. Though we now are tied with the Ravens in record, we still hold the edge within the division. If we win the next two-Carolina is almost a give in, or at least it better be, but Cleveland worries me; they'd love to play spoiler-I believe we get the division crown and the #2 seed. That and we can be excited that come playoff time we will have our two most important defensive players back in Polamalu and Smith.
That's all I got for you now. I'm in the mood to fight somebody. I might as well start writing down comebacks to use against Jets fans tomorrow. At least I can get some sympathy from Giants fans. What a game that was.