It's Steelers football: Ball control and defense
Turns out the Pittsburgh Steelers aren't "the worst team in the league."
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said it would have been fair to describe the Steelers that way after they fell to 0-4 with a loss to the Vikings in London two weeks ago.
Now Pittsburgh is 1-4 after Sunday's 19-6 victory over the Jets at MetLife Stadium.
"It's good to get a win, obviously," Roethlisberger said. "We have a long way to go, though. I told the guys, 'Let's be happy right now. But let's not be satisfied.' We're so used to coming into that locker room after a win that it's been tough this year so far. We need to keep that feeling going."
Roethlisberger led a ball-control offense and threw a 55-yard pass on third-and-1 to Emmanuel Sanders early in the third quarter for the game's only touchdown. Sanders got behind Antonio Cromartie and Roethlisberger hit him in stride. Sanders did a somersault into the end zone as the Steelers went ahead 16-6.
"We thought we were going to run the ball," Sanders said. "He actually dialed up a play-action pass in which I had a post and ended up beating Cromartie. The rest is history."
Roethlisberger was 23-for-30 for 264 yards and no turnovers as the Steelers held the ball for 35:49 to the Jets' 24:11.
"He was him," coach Mike Tomlin said. "Did a great job of communicating. Sometimes when you're in a hostile environment on the road, that becomes difficult. Aside from his play, I thought he did a nice job communicating to players and staff in the midst of it all."
Tomlin also credited the Steelers' "big-splash plays defensively," which included the team's first two forced turnovers of the season on a pair of interceptions of Geno Smith.
The Steelers had gone four games, one half and much of the third quarter without causing a turnover when Ryan Clark picked off Smith at the Pittsburgh 1-yard line with 7:52 left in the third.
Lawrence Timmons also intercepted a Smith pass at the Pittsburgh 3-yard line with just over three minutes left in the fourth.
"I told the guys in the locker room there was nothing mystical about it," Tomlin said. "We maintained possession of the football and we got the football. In particular, we got the football in the red area. Hopefully, it's a springboard for things to come."
Tomlin was so incensed by the Steelers' poor start that he banned all game-playing in the locker room after they fell to 0-4 in London. After the bye week, the Steelers visited MetLife in front of a sizable number of Pittsburgh fans and made their intense coach proud.
"It's a good feeling," Tomlin said. "Not like you won the lottery, obviously, but it's still a good feeling nonetheless."