Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) at New York Jets (1-8)
TV: CBS Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Radio: WDVE, Steelers Nation Radio Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin, Craig Wolfley
Injuries: Troy Polamalu, Shamarko Thomas, Ross Ventrone, Ike Taylor, Ryan Shazier -OUT… Cam Heyward, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Heath Miller, Mike Mitchell, Maurkice Pouncey, Jason Worilds – Probable
The Steelers played MetLife Stadium in week six last year and entered the game at 0-4. Behind four Shaun Suisham field goals, the Steelers prevailed 19-6.
Here are the three things we need to see this week in order for their to be a Steelers’ victory.
1. Stop. The. Run. I emphatically stated that because it it has to happen. The Jets are second in the NFL in rushing and boast two guys who average more than four yards per carry in Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson. The Steelers have traditionally done pretty well against Johnson from his days in Tennessee. In six career games against the Steelers, Johnson is averaging 62 yards in those contests.
Ivory has just 23 career yards on 11 carries in two games against the Steelers but he has been the team’s bell cow to this point. Steve McLendon gave the Baltimore Ravens’ interior line fits last week and this week he goes up against a very good center in Nick Mangold. The run defense will begin and end with him setting the tone and forcing the runners to the outside.
The quicker the Steelers force Michael Vick to throw the ball the better.
2. Stick with what works. Last week against Baltimore, the Steelers used ’11’ personnel on five of their six touchdowns. This means they had one tight end (Heath Miller) and one running back (Le’Veon Bell) and then three wide receivers. Three times in those five scenarios, the Steelers emptied the backfield and went five-wide.
At the end of the day, football is a simple game. You make the defense stop what you do well on offense. When and if they do, then you can alter the plan but there’s no reason to whatsoever at this juncture. Todd Haley has to resist the urge to go ‘heavy’ and stick with what has this team on a three-game winning streak.
3. Dance after the kickoff. Mike Tomlin was less than thrilled that members of his kickoff team were dancing along with the stadium music just prior to Jacoby Jones’ kickoff return for touchdown. Tomlin said there won’t be any more of that nonsense and he’s absolutely right but the special teams’ units have other concerns as well.
While Brad Wing’s impromptu two=point conversion was great last week, it was the second time in as recent weeks that he’s bobbled a snap on a placement. If you’ll recall, he bobbled it against Cleveland and the Browns never looked back after that play.
Danny Smith’s group needs to get their together and find consistency immediately.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteelDad and the website @SCBlitz. Check us out on Facebook at facebook.com/steelcityblitz and on Fancred.com. You can hear him weekly during the season on game day on the Trib-Live Radio Steelers Pre-Game
photo courtesy metlifestadium.com