Four important observations from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 19-6 victory over the New York Jets, the first win of the season for the Black and Gold:
1. Secondary Redemption
Not only did the Steelers finally win, force a turnover (or two), and have the lead going into the half, but defensive captain Ryan Clark finally showed up. Clark intercepted Geno Smith on the Jets’ second possession of the third quarter and also led the team in tackles with five total, two solo.
Cornerback Cortez Allen allowed two catches for just 15 yards in four balls thrown his way. He also had three tackles, including a key sack of Smith for a two-yard loss.
2. Antonio Brown (thankfully) isn’t Mike Wallace.
Antonio Brown continues to be the motor of the Steelers offense. Brown led the team with nine catches for 86 yards and also tossed the first pass completion of his career. The 15-yard pass to Felix Jones gave the Steelers a first down and led to Shaun Suisham’s second field goal of the afternoon – and the Steelers’ first lead of the game.
Brown would have had over 100 receiving yards had Antonio Cromartie not held him at the end of the third quarter; Cromartie was flagged for pass interference on the play. A few plays later Suisham finished off the Jets with his final field goal, sealing the win. Let’s make a quick comparison of Brown and the “top” free agent wide receiver this offseason, former Steeler Mike Wallace:
|2013 Stats||Contract||Receptions||Targets||Yards||TDs||1st Downs|
|Mike Wallace (6 games)||5 years, $60 Million||22||44||281||1||14|
|Antonio Brown (5 games)||6 years, $43.04 Million||41 (#2 NFL)||53||498 (#7 NFL)||2||28 (#1 NFL)|
3. Youth on tap
Rookies Vince Williams (on the field for 45 percent of snaps) and Jarvis Jones (57 percent) played significant roles in the win over the Jets, but they were not the only defensive rookies getting lots of action in New York. The Steelers seemingly used the bye week to get rookie safety Shamarko Thomas up to game speed.
After receiving zero snaps against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4, the fourth-round rookie Thomas played 53 percent of the defensive snaps. Neither of the other two backup safeties, Robert Golden and newly-signed Will Allen, played a snap on defense.
4. The Steelers (fingers crossed) may have found a left tackle
The Pittsburgh offensive line may have given up four sacks on Sunday, but they had an overall decent game against one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. In his first start at left tackle, Kelvin Beachum held Jets’ top defensive lineman Mohammed Wilkerson to just two tackles. Wilkerson had one sack, but it wasn’t against Beachum.
Wilkerson had seven tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble against the Falcons the previous week and had a similar game vs. the Buffalo Bills in Week 3 (six tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble). After seeing both Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams fail miserably, it was nice to see at least one draft pick, albeit a sixth-rounder, have some success.