By customary NFL standards, this was a meh performance at best, what with Sam Darnold’s wildly uneven outing, including an ill-timed fumble, and Le’Veon Bell averaging fewer than three yards on 25 carries. But other than the Darnold fumble that led to the Steelers’ only touchdown late in the first half, the offense did what it set out to do: Not mess up against one of the league’s more formidable defenses and allow its own defense a chance to feast on the quarterback-challenged Steelers offense. So it came to pass – and run.
Other than one huge glitch in the final seconds of the first half – when Diontae Johnson beat Bless Austin for a 29-yard touchdown pass from Mason Rudolph – the Jets took full advantage of the Steelers’ offensive dysfunction. They sacked Pittsburgh quarterbacks four times, had two interceptions and pitched a shutout in the second half. Safety Marcus Maye had an interception in the end zone, but that was not his biggest play. The highlight was his breakup of a pass into the end zone in the final minute that the Steelers’ James Washington had a chance at.
Mostly good news here. Sam Ficken was 3-for-3 on field goals – making them from 54, 37 and 42 yards out – and Lachlan Edwards placed two of his six punts inside the 20-yard line, with a long of 63. But Edwards nearly ruined the entire day when with less than two minutes left he came up with a 28-yard punt that gave the Steelers the ball at their 40-yard line, trailing by six points with 1:27 left. Yikes! Then the Steelers remembered their offense is a disaster area and the Jets held on for the victory.
Adam Gase looked like a potential one-and-done flop after a 1-7 start capped by a loss to the Dolphins. Since then, he has won five of seven and given fans reason to hope that he might know he is doing. The victory over the Steelers was nothing pretty, but it was the result of a carefully considered plan to be, well, carefully considered, at least on offense. Bell had a season-high in rushes and there was only one turnover, leaving Gregg Williams’ defense free to do its thing against the overmatched quarterback duo of Devlin Hodges and Mason Rudolph.