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Jets QB Geno Smith speaks highly of Steelers safeties

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The quarterback became the 15th of the last 17 rookie passers to lose against Dick LeBeau's defense. He credited the play of Pittsburgh's safeties, Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark, for taking away the Jets' big play ability.

Rich Schultz

It wasn't a perfect game by any means for the Steelers' veteran safeties, Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark.

Clark netted the team's first takeaway of the season - an interception in the third quarter in the red zone. He also let him sail through his hands, which would have been a far bigger deal had he not caught the first one.

Polamalu delivered a thunderous hit on Jets wide receiver Stephen Hill, who was down with what seemed like should have resulted in his removal from the game. He returned to the field in the second half, drawing respect from anyone who's taken a hit like that.

Through the up and down, Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith was impressed with the ability of Clark and Polamalu, working in unison, and their ability to prevent the big play the Jets have feasted on this season.

"They covered our verticals pretty well, carried the seams, and I think that's a testament to having guys like Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark, who've played in this league and who have seen those plays time and time again," Smith told Post-Gazette reporter Ray Fittipaldo. "They kept things in front of them. They didn't allow us to hit the big play, something we've been accustomed to doing so far this year."

Smith finished 19-of-34 for 201 yards and threw two interceptions - one to Clark and one to linebacker Lawrence Timmons. It was by far the worst performance a quarterback has had against the Steelers this season, which begs the question, what will happen when it's an experienced veteran like Baltimore's Joe Flacco (Pittsburgh's Week 7 opponent)?

The Steelers prevented the big play from occurring, both against the run and pass, for the first time this year. It isn't a coincidence it was their best defensive game so far this year. And their first win.

Good things happen when a defense forces a turnover and doesn't allow big gains. Clark and Polamalu both prevented the big plays, as well as making a few of their own.

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