The second half was pretty much the first time the Steelers played with an extended lead for an extended period of time. While the offense did not produce consistently until the end, it came up with play after play, and gutted out a kind of ugly victory.
We'll take 'em that way.
Play of the Game and Cult Icon Status goes to DeMarcus Van Dyke for a huge special teams play (that was much cooler frame-by-frame as I explain below) and hats off to Heath Miller once again.
Antonio Brown could stand to chill a little bit after a catch, but what a catch it was.
Lots more notes from the second half below the jump.
- Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley's sack of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez was simply Woodley whipping his man. Coverage was solid enough (cornerback Cortez Allen knocked the likely primary receiver, Jeremy Kerley, to the ground, which definitely helped), but Woodley just got around the edge and made a play.
- Facing a 2nd-and-10, the Steelers look to a stretch run with Dwyer to get some space. Left tackle Max Starks gets blown up by Muhammad Wilkerson, and Gilbert fails to get a punch on Marcus Dixon. Both converge on Dwyer, who barely has a chance to step anywhere with the ball. Six yard loss.
- There's Mike Wallace doing that one-trick pony thing again. He doesn't go up in the air well, he doesn't adjust to the ball well, doesn't have good balance and basically only makes plays when he's hit in stride, right? Yes, that's all sarcasm. Wallace does a great job redirecting himself toward the ball and giving himself a chance to make the play while still keeping his feet in control. Antonio Cromartie did the opposite of all of that.
- That was the first Steelers scoring drive this season on less than nine plays. it's also their biggest play of the year, and it was a 3rd-and-16 conversion. Why am I pointing all of this out? I don't know. It's not like they've scored a ton of points and one could say a lack of turnovers is as much a part of the drives stat as the ball control style is, but it all sounds cool.
- Tim Tebow does a nice job reading his blocks on the read-option he ran for 22 yards. The Steelers all played it correctly except Larry Foote. He correctly read the guard, but then filled outside, giving Tebow a huge hole. Ziggy Hood failed to make a diving tackle, and off he ran.
- The second play in the Wildcat is basically the same thing, but Tebow gives it to the motioning Joe McKnight, who should have been dead-to-rights in the backfield. Woodley blows a tackle, Foote overpursues the play, and the rest of the Steelers defenders sit flat-footed, expecting either Woodley or Foote to have taken him down. Tebow's run was a little mistake and otherwise was just good execution by the Jets. McKnight's run was weak. That play should have gone for a five-yard loss, and instead, he gets 12 out of it.
- Ryan Clark returns the favor after Dick LeBeau brings him to the line. He knifes past a lazy block attempt by Konrad Reuland for a big tackle for loss. That sends Tebow off the field, bringing back Sanchez. Trading out Tebow for Sanchez on passing downs is like trading a hole in your roof for a broken furnace.
- After Woodley's near-sack in which is somehow managed to grab Sanchez's right (throwing) arm while he's in the air, the Steelers' secondary does a great job in a zone defense on 3rd-and-long. The group looks to be playing with much more confidence now since Lewis's gaffe in the first half. Ike Taylor does a great job battling with Santonio Holmes on a good pass from Sanchez, knocking it away incomplete.
- It's hard to pinpoint any one offensive linemen for the struggles in the running game, but all of them have contributed to the failure of at least one running play. This time it's Will Johnson completely missing a run-blitzing Bart Scott, leaving the pulling Willie Colon to alter his target to chip Scott, and missing David Harris, who makes the tackle at the line of scrimmage.
- The fumble recovery by BTSC Cult Hero DeMarcus Van Dyke was a really fun play to watch frame-by-frame. Upon the punt, Jets CB Kyle Wilson is ahead of Van Dyke, who's at the Steelers' 29 yard line. They're even at the 32-yard line. Van Dyke takes the lead by the 35-yard line. He ahead by about two yards at the Steelers' 46-yard line.
- If Wilson doesn't shove Van Dyke at the Jets' own 43-yard line, I'm fully convinced that ball ricochets off the helmet of return man Jeremy Kerley's helmet and hits Van Dyke square in the gut. He then continues on at Mach 3, scoring a touchdown. I'm not exaggerating either. Van Dyke is off-balance when he knocks into Kerley, but the ball already hit his helmet and was loose. Van Dyke slowed down when shoved from behind because he lost his balance. If he stayed on the same path, the ball would have handed square in his bread basket.
- For the Jets' sake, it was a good thing Wilson shoved him though, because Van Dyke would have absolutely destroyed him if he hung onto the ball.
- Two plays later, Ben has too many completion options and too much time in the pocket to deliver a decent throw. With Wallace streaking again on Cromartie on a post with no safety help, and Antonio Brown losing Yeremiah Bell on an arrow (with what would have been a wide open release down the sideline), Roethlisberger throws a bad pass at running back Jonathan Dwyer's feet.
- For those counting at home, Brown was the one who gestured angrily at Roethlisberger after the play, not Wallace. A rare mishap in an otherwise outstanding game from Roethlisberger.
- If RB Chris Rainey catches that screen pass and turns to get on Colon's outside shoulder, he's got the sideline for at least 12 yards. Bart Scott is the only Jet in sight and Colon easily would have taken him out.
- Those miscues - Roethlisberger hesitating on the throw to Wallace, missing Brown on the sideline and underthrowing Dwyer along with Rainey's drop are preventing this offense from scoring as much as the offensive line is preventing it from running. It's still early in the year, but like I said in the First Half Rewind, offensive coordinator Todd Haley has to be chewing glass behind the scenes.
- I could watch this 10 minute drive all day. There are both good things and bad things, but the Steelers ultimately win out because the Jets are dog-tired. Their front seven is just gassed. Probably demoralized too after their enforcer, Landry, drills Brown after a leaping catch for a first down, and he gets up power-walking and flexing.
- Speaking of that...Brown makes that catch and takes 19 steps forward (yes, I counted) from where he caught the ball. He pauses for a split second, poses, and presumably, returns either to the sideline or the huddle. We have no issue with this? While I love Antonio Brown as a player, I've always taken issue with his post-catch flamboyance. Where the hell is he going, anyway? Personally, I would have enjoyed him doing the big "first down" point, then going to tell Landry about it. Seems a bit cooler than the Short Man Strut.
- Miller makes a tougher catch, doesn't take the hit Brown does, but still a big catch. It's an emotional game, I'm all about them hollering all war-like, but there's a difference between showing emotion and acting like a clown.
- Redman's touchdown run was inspiring to say the least. It was obvious the backs and the line were all energized at the end of that drive, and the Jets were running on empty.
- That's the value of banging into the line for two yards a pop 25 times.
- The only concern is doing that means your quarterback has to be en fuego on 3rd-and-long all game otherwise you won't be in a position to ice a game with a long drive in the fourth quarter. You'll be down 24-19 with three minutes left, and then they run the interception back for...you get the idea.
- The running game sealed the game, but without Roethlisberger, this is probably a loss. Big win, still a long way to go.