Pittsburgh, PA– The dream of a Jets Super Bowl quickly turned into a nightmare. The game was over before it even started, as the Steelers steamrolled the Jets from the opening kick and the Jets were never able to fully recover.
Sure the Jets were able to salvage some of their beaten down pride with the way the came out in the second half, but there was never even a shred of doubt that the Jets season just had a fork stuck in them by halftime.
The 21 point halftime lead was just far too much for the Jets to overcome, regardless of how hard the team scrapped in the second half. If only the Jets could have figured out a recipe for early success, not only for this game as they suffered from a season long problem of getting off to slow starts.
At half-time the differences in production was alarming. The Steelers not only scored 21 more points in the half, they also had 16 first-downs to the Jets 5, 231 yards (135 rushing) to 50 (one rushing) for the Jets and 21:04 time of possession to 8:56 for the Jets. No team is going to win games falling behind like that and the Jets were no different.
The time of possession, or lack there of in the Jets case, and the rushing yards was ultimately what doomed the Jets and according to Sione Pouha it was all about a breakdown in the basics.
“Basics of football. Tackling, myself included. I was probably the prime mis-tackler today.” Pouha said, “Just the basics of tackling and getting Mendenhall down and that’s it, basics.”
“They did a great job running the football. We did a poor job of tackling.” Rex Ryan said, “For whatever reason, our technique wasn’t as good. We made some adjustments at halftime, but that was really disappointing. The tackling was not up to our standards.”
“You don’t win in this league unless you know how to stop the run and run the ball.” Trevor Pryce said.
During the regular season the Jets were able to overcome many of those slow starts and emerge victorious, but this wasn’t the regular season and they weren’t playing the likes of the Browns or Lions. In what seemed like a blink of an eye, Heinz Field was literally rocking as the Steelers jumped out to a 24-0 lead and even though the Steelers would fail to score another point in the second half, as it turned out 24 was all that was needed. 19 straight points (16 in the second-half) wasn’t quite enough to save the Jets from an offseason of misery as these players will be forced to think what may have been.
The Jets had a chance to pull off one last amazing come from behind victory, but the hole they dug themselves proved to be too deep to work their way out of. No matter how many plays the Jets made in the second-half and no matter how close they cut the score, the ending to the game was never in doubt as the Steelers had the game won by halftime, whether they knew it or not.
“Congratulations to them, they played great. They played a whole entire game and unfortunately we only played half a game.” Matt Slauson said, “And it wasn’t good enough.”
“Definitely, they played well the whole game and giving them head start in the first half, the way we were playing we had no shot.” Eric Smith said. “It’s frustrating, it hurts a lot right now and it’s going to hurt for awhile. We got to get back here next year and get past that point.”
As the final seconds ticked off the clock two drastically different scenes began to take shape. The Jets players slowly and solemnly walked back to the visitor’s locker room, with their heads down and their pride badly damaged. Not a single player came even close to cracking a smile as the pain of the season coming to an end consumed the bowels of Heinz Field, all while the Steelers were busy partying and celebrating on the field.
Jason Taylor’s eyes were leaking water, James Ihedigbo sat with his head down giving himself the classic face-palm of disappointment and Dwight Lowery just stood there, dazed and confused, staring blankly at the ground, clueless as to what to do next.
After the game a stunned Ryan addressed the media saying, “We are all proud of our team. We had a heck of a season. Obviously we came up short tonight, just like we did last year, one game away from the big game. That’s what we play for, to advance to the Super Bowl. But, I’m proud of our guys. We played a good half, but we just didn’t play a full game.”
The Jets accomplished a lot this season, so they and their fans should be proud of, but tonight the cut is too fresh and the pain too new to ignore the fact that they didn’t accomplish their goal.
A great season indeed, just not great enough.
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