Mark Sanchez, offense fall short in loss to Steelers
PITTSBURGH -- Calvin Pace sat at his locker stall, his shoulders hunched, his voice barely audible.
For the second straight week, the veteran linebacker lamented what the Jets' defense should have done but ultimately failed to execute. As only he can, Pace summed up Sunday's 27-10 loss to the Steelers in sobering detail, sugarcoating nothing.
"We just didn't do enough," he said, sighing heavily as he spoke. "That's just bottom line. I would love to sit here and give you some crazy excuse as to why we didn't win, but in certain situations where you have to step up, we weren't good enough."
Ben Roethlisberger (24-for-31) put on a show at Heinz Field, throwing for 275 yards and two touchdowns in the Steelers' home opener and joining Terry Bradshaw as the only quarterbacks in franchise history to eclipse the 27,000-yard passing mark.
Roethlisberger, who was sacked three times, finished with a quarterback rating of 125.1, and in the end, Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley's declaration came to fruition. "We will not be 0-2," he had said on multiple occasions this past week.
On the other hand, the absence of cornerback Darrelle Revis (concussion) was glaring as Roethlisberger picked apart the Jets' defense. Pittsburgh's "Young Money Crew" -- Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders -- made it clear this past week that they weren't scared of Revis Island, and they wound up dominating the Revis-less secondary. Wallace's 37-yard touchdown reception on Roethlisberger's desperation heave into the end zone in the third quarter was the ultimate backbreaker.
Antonio Cromartie, who was covering Wallace on the route, never tracked the ball with his eyes and overran the wide receiver, who stopped and turned around to make the catch. Cromartie waved his hands at the replacement refs as if to say Wallace's feet weren't inbounds. But a review of the play showed the touchdown was legit, and so was the Jets' 20-10 deficit.
But while the Steelers had no trouble generating offense -- thanks to tight end Heath Miller's 1-yard touchdown reception, Isaac Redman's 2-yard touchdown run and two 45-yard field goals by Shaun Suisham -- the Jets' seemingly promising offense stalled. Repeatedly.
Mark Sanchez (10-for-27, 138 yards) found Santonio Holmes on a slant for a 14-yard touchdown on their first drive. But Sanchez went 6-for-22 after that.
Holmes, who won a Super Bowl with the Steelers, finished with three catches for 28 yards and several drops.
Rex Ryan and his players pointed to their inability to convert on third down and stop the Steelers on their third-down opportunities. Namely, Wallace's touchdown catch on third-and-16. "That was a killer play in the game," Ryan said.
He said the team was outplayed in all phases of the game, including coaching. But the Jets barely had an explanation for their miscues and their missed opportunities. The team that stepped into Heinz Field and put up 10 points against the depleted Steelers wasn't them, they said. Guard Matt Slauson harkened back to last week's 20-point blowout of the Bills, a game in which the Jets scored 48 points.
It was the "same old stuff," he said. "It's Pittsburgh. They are who they are. I think we're a lot closer to the team last week. We were close on every play . . . We were right there."
Running back Shonn Greene left the game early in the second quarter after taking a hit to the head on a 9-yard run up the middle. He was a tad slow getting up and looked woozy as he tried to run off the field, but he returned to start the third quarter. Fullback John Conner left the game with 2:46 left in the third after reinjuring his right knee.
"It wasn't a reality check," Pace said when asked to put the loss in perspective. "We just didn't win. We had our chances. We just didn't get off the field. I don't speak for the offense, so you have to ask somebody on their side. But defensively, we had our chances to get off the field on some of those third downs. That long pass in the end zone, you've got to make a play on that."