The Steelers haven’t reached their goal of scoring 30 points per game at this point in the season, but the last two weeks have shown they might be able to reach that plateau before the year is out.
The Steelers grabbed the lead just before halftime on a short touchdown pass to tight end Jesse James and they kept building it as the second half unfolded in Pittsburgh on Sunday. The end result was a 31-13 victory over the Jets that pushed their record to 4-1 on the season and ensured they’d end the day in sole possession of first place in the AFC North.
Ben Roethlisberger was rarely pressured while completing 34-of-47 passes for 382 yards and four touchdowns. Sammie Coates had six catches for 141 yards and two scores while Antonio Brown had nine catches for 78 yards. Brown also scored, but he won’t be getting fined for too many pumps this week as he skipped them altogether in favor of handing the ball to a fan.
Le’Veon Bell added 88 receiving yards and 66 rushing yards in his second outing of the season and the Steelers offense has spent most of the last two weeks showing why they set such big goals for themselves this offseason. A trip to Miami, where the Dolphins were chewed up by the Titans on Sunday, is coming next week.
On a rare moment when the Jets got pressure on Roethlisberger, Leonard Williams forced a fumble that Sheldon Richardson recovered to give the Jets the ball down 11 with time to do something about it. The Jets drove near midfield, but opted to punt on fourth-and-two with 7:36 left to play in a decision that coach Todd Bowles will surely be asked to defend when he meets with the media.
The script was different this Sunday than it was in the last two Jets losses as Ryan Fitzpatrick avoided turnovers after throwing nine interceptions over the previous two games. The offense couldn’t sustain drives in the second half, however, and the lack of aggressiveness Bowles showed on that fourth down isn’t something the team could afford if they wanted a road win.
They’ll need to press the issue a bit more next week in Arizona or they’ll be 1-5 with dwindling reasons to believe that a postseason trip is in their future. That’s not the case in Pittsburgh, where everything appears to be coming together as hoped for the Steelers.