It wasn’t always pretty, but the Steelers aren’t going to throw back their 19-6 victory over the Jets because it lacked style points.
The Pittsburgh defense picked up its first two takeaways of the season, harassed Geno Smith in the pocket all afternoon and did a lot of the heavy lifting on the way to their first win of the year. The Jets’ last gasp came with three minutes to play in the game as they drove into the red zone, but Jarvis Jones crushed Smith as he threw a pass and Lawrence Timmons picked the pass off to seal the victory. It was Smith’s second interception of a frustrating day that featured a blend of his own mistakes and a lack of competent receiving targets combining to add up to an 18-of-33 line for the rookie.
Ben Roethlisberger had a much better day, finishing 23-of-30 for 264 yards and no turnovers in his best performance of the season. The Jets defense did a good job of keeping Pittsburgh out of the end zone with the exception of a 55-yard pass to Emmanuel Sanders that accounted for the only touchdown of the day for either team. Roethlisberger and the Steelers were able to avoid turnovers as well, a crucial change from past weeks even if the offense didn’t quite fire on all cylinders with the running game still stuck in the mud and the pass protection still shaky.
If the Steelers are going to turn this win into the springboard for a sustained turnaround, they’ll need to beat the Ravens at home next weekend. There was enough good on Sunday to make that seem realistic, which is as good as things have been for the Steelers since the season started.