Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hex Broken vs. Rex Winless Record Erased after Victory against New York Jets, Embattled Coach; Team Feeling Sense of Relief

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hex Broken vs. Rex Winless Record Erased after Victory against New York Jets, Embattled Coach; Team Feeling Sense of Relief

Article excerpt

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- They did not break out the champagne, and the Steelers did not whoop it up after their 19-6 victory against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. They acted like they had been there before, even if they had no such previous experience in 2013.

What a victory against their longtime cousins -- they now are 19- 4 vs. the Jets (3-3) -- might mean in the long run after opening with four losses will be left for the long run. What it means to them now is a sense of relief and determination to keep it up.

"Hopefully," coach Mike Tomlin said, "this is a springboard of things to come."

The Steelers had not lost their first four games in 45 years, have not had a losing season in 10, had not been out of the playoff run in quite some time. So the sense of shock at 0-4 gave way to something else Sunday.

"It feels right," Heath Miller said. "It's far from perfect, but I'm happy with the win."

They accomplished that the old-fashioned Steelers way by stopping the run, protecting the football and -- hold onto your hats -- sacking the quarterback and producing two key turnovers that prevented Jets scores. They were the first forced turnovers of the season, thus preventing them the ignominy of becoming the only team in NFL history without getting a turnover through their first five games.

"Big splash plays defensively, maintained possession of the ball offensively," is how Tomlin put it, his team committing no turnovers for the first time this season. "There are plays and then there are significant plays ... [Sunday] we made the splash plays and that is why we were able to win."

Safety Ryan Clark broke the seal when he intercepted Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith at the Steelers 2 in the third quarter, preserving a 16-6 lead, the first lead they have held in the second half this season.

Linebacker Lawrence Timmons ended any further drama when he picked off a floater by Smith at the Steelers 3, forced when Jarvis Jones slammed into Smith with his arm in motion. That came with three minutes left in the ballgame, making it a wrap.

Ben Roethlisberger and his offense took care of the rest. Shaun Suisham wiped out a 3-0 Jets first-quarter lead with three field goals in the third quarter, and added a fourth in the fourth.

While they were happy that Suisham was again perfect -- he is 10 for 10 this season -- they figured a touchdown would be nice.

"As good as that defense is," Roethlisberger said of the Jets defense, ranked second in the NFL, "we have to score touchdowns. We can't be relying on Suisham to get us 3 even though we know he will get us 3."

The touchdown came in the third quarter of a 9-6 game. Roethlisberger had just handed off to Le'Veon Bell twice for 9 yards and then said Todd Haley's next play call was perfect.

So, too, was the execution. Roethlisberger faked a handoff to Bell from a run formation. …

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