The New York Jets left their high-flying offense back in the Big Apple as the Pittsburgh Steelers grounded Mark Sanchez and company in the Steel City on Sunday. Following a 90-yard touchdown drive on their first offensive possession, the Jets managed just three points and 129 total yards for the remainder of the contest.
"We weren't our best, admitted Sanchez. "The throws weren't there at times. The catches weren't there at times. We came up short."
Wallace hauls in a spectacular touchdown grab during third-quarter action
Meanwhile, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was in rare-form completing 24 of 31 pass attempts for 275 yards and two touchdowns, producing a sterling passer rating of 125.8. Pittsburgh's No. 7 repeatedly extended plays and evaded the Jets pass-rush on several critical third-down conversions.
No play bigger than Roethlisberger's 37-yard touchdown connection with wide receiver Mike Wallace on a 3rd-and-16 with 8:44 second left in the third- quarter, propelling the Black-and-Gold to a 20-10 lead. The Revis-less Jets allowed the Steelers to pass for 13-first downs and covert on 8-of-15 third-down attempts.
"I thought the game started off well," noted Jets head coach Rex Ryan. "I knew it was going to be a tough game. The 3-and-16 killed us. That was a backbreaker obviously. When Ben avoids the sack and throws a jump ball up there and Wallace does a great job of getting both feet in bounds. That was a killer play in the game. You've got to give them credit, the Steelers played an outstanding game."
Pittsburgh dominated the time of possession battle maintaining the ball for nearly 37 minutes, salting away the victory. New York's Wildcat extraordinaire Tim Tebow took only a handful of snaps, rushing the ball just once for 22 yards as the Jets abandoned their ground-and-pound in the second half. The Steelers won their tenth consecutive home opener and moved to a record of 16-4 head-to-head against the Jets.
Both defenses missed perennial Pro-Bowlers with Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis sidelined by a mild concussion while Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was hobbled by a calf injury and linebacker James Harrison sat out with knee issues. Running back Shonn Greene left the game in the second-quarter with a neck injury after colliding with safety Ryan Mundy, but returned to the game in the third quarter. Fullback John Conner sustained a knee injury in the third-quarter and did not return to action. Roethlisberger's passer rating of 125.8 was the highest surrendered by the Jets under Ryan.