Hard Knocks vs. Smash Mouth, Jets vs. Steelers

January 25, 2011 | Michael Schwartz

Two of the best defenses in the NFL faced off on Sunday for the chance to advance to the Super Bowl. The Steelers are the number one defense in the NFL led by Troy Polamalu, and the Jets defense is the third best defense in the NFL led by Darrelle Revis. These two teams met in Week 15, and the Jets won 22-17. Troy Polamalu didn’t play in this game due to a knee injury, and he is one of the best defensive players in the league. The Steelers probably would have won if he was in the game. In this game the Steelers allowed the most rushing yards in a single game this season. James Harrison said that the Jets will not run for over 100 yards again, and Harrison showed that when he stopped Greene in the backfield for a loss of two. This Steelers defense is very difficult to play against, and also very difficult to prepare for since they have so much talent.

The Jets defense is equally as challenging to prepare for because Rex Ryan loves to blitz. Rex Ryan was the defensive coordinator for the Ravens so he saw the Steelers two times a year, and when they played he blitzed Roethlisberger early and often. Against most teams the Jets will blitz, but versus the Patriots the Jets on blitzed 12% of the time. This is the opposite of what Ryan usually does, but they won so he’s not complaining. Big Ben is very difficult to bring down, so if they blitz then their corners need to be on their men tight or else Ben will make a big play. When they get to Ben, they need to wrap him up and make sure they get two or three guys on him. He is a very talented quarterback and has been in this position before, and has won two Super Bowls.

This game started off all Steelers and continued like that for the entire first half. Their first drive was over nine minutes and they scored a touchdown. This was the start they needed against the Jets defense, which is all about defense. On this drive the Steelers lost their Pro Bowl center, Maurkice Pouncey. The backup center rarely takes snaps in prep before the game, but he had to go in and he played an average game. This was a huge game and that put a lot of pressure on him, but he played well enough and gave Ben the ball enough to win.

The Jets offense was awful in the first half; they couldn’t run the ball or pass the ball. Mark Sanchez was getting pressured on every play by someone on the Steelers. The Jets made a huge mistake and that was when Mark Sanchez got sacked and fumbled. The Steelers recovered it and took it back for a touchdown. This was a great way to end the half and they went into halftime leading 24-3.

The second half was all Jets and they did a great job on defense and on offense. They forced Roethlisberger to throw two interceptions. Ben Roethlisberger had two fumbles and didn’t lose either, but he did recover one in the end zone. He bobbled the snap and dove on it and he was in the end zone. The Jets did a great job at getting to the quarterback in the second half. The defense didn’t allow the Steelers to score, and that gave them a good chance to win.

The Jets offense played much better in the second half. Sanchez threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Santonio Holmes scored the first one on a play action in which he changed his route, and Sanchez hit him in the end zone for a 45 yard touchdown. The Jets still couldn’t run the ball, and that was a problem because the play action wasn’t as effective as it could be. The Jets scored their last touchdown in the fourth quarter with a pass from Mark Sanchez to Braylon Edwards. This put the Steelers within five with over four minutes to go. The Jets couldn’t stop the Steelers and they ran the clock out in their final drive. It was a great effort that came up short, but they still had a good season.

The Jets made many improvements this season and they will be a good team in the years to come. Mark Sanchez is a very good young quarterback and as he gets more experience in the NFL then he will become a more composed quarterback. L.T is getting old but he showed that he still had something in the tank. Shonn Greene is a good, young, and physical running back. He is going to be very good in the coming years and he has shown that in the last two years, especially in the playoffs. Their defense is one of the best in the NFL and that isn’t going to change. They have an old defensive line, but they still have a young secondary and a middle aged line backing corp. This team will likely make the playoffs in the 2011-2012 season, if there is not a lockout.

The Steelers are going for their seventh Super Bowl win. They already lead the NFL with six Super Bowl Championships. This is their third Super Bowl in six years, and Ben Roethlisberger has led them to all three. They have had a great defense during all of their Super Bowl runs, and their offense has been above average. They have always been able to run the ball effectively, and Rashard Mendenhall is a very physical back. Hines Ward is the all time reception leader for the Steelers, and Mike Wallace is one of the best young wide receivers in the NFL. He is one of the best deep ball threats because he has tremendous speed. The Steelers need to prepare for a great Packers offense and a very good defense. This Super Bowl will be very exciting because there are two very good defenses and good offenses.