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Obviously, the Jets’ passing offense played a lot better in the second half. They made some solid adjustments against Dick LeBeau’s game plan, which worked so well in the first half. Dan takes a look . . .
A big help to Mark Sanchez on the first drive of the half was how well the Jets ran at the beginning of that possession. The first play of the drive featured a 23-yard run to the left side by Shonn Greene, and then an eight-yard run by LaDainian Tomlinson up the middle. The Jets ran on the third play of this drive as well, but that run didn’t go anywhere.
But the Jets made a statement – “We are down 24-3, but were aren’t going to get pass happy and let these guys pin their ears back and go after Sanchez.
Then the drive ended with two passes that covered 61 yards to Santonio Holmes. On third-and-four, Sanchez hit Holmes for a gain of 16 on a curl route in the left side. Then, on the next play, the three runs at the beginning of the drive, came back to help the Jets. On first-and-10, Sanchez faked a handoff up the middle, and ran a bootleg to the right, and there was a lot of biting, and Holmes was wide open down the right side for a 45-yard touchdown.
The next possession was a three-and-out. After a run on first down, Sanchez was high to Holmes over the middle. James Farrior blitzed on this play, and did impact the pass. Then on third down, Sanchez hit Braylon Edwards on an out on the right side, but the receiver was ruled out of bounds.
Then the Jets’ offense was on the sidelines for almost six minutes (because of the poor run defense), because getting the ball back at the end of the third quarter.
On the first play of the drive, the Jets brought Robert Turner in as a sixth lineman, so this gave the perception of an upcoming run, and Sanchez sold a play-action fake, and hit Edwards on a quick slant for a gain of 18.
Then on the second play of the drive, LT ran for five yards up the middle, showing the Steelers the run was a still part of the Jets plan. Then on second-and-five (which is a great scenario of second down – very manageable), Sanchez threw a pass down the deep left side, to Dustin Keller, in front of safety Ryan Clark, and in back of linebacker James Harrison, for a gain of 19.
A few plays later on a third-and-four, Sanchez hit Keller on a six-yard quick slant. Keller had a favorable matchup on Clark, and he won the battle.
Two plays later, on 2nd-and-nine, Sanchez, feeling heat from NT Casey Hampton, ran up the middle for a gain of six.
A few plays later, the drive had a setback, on first-and-10 from the 16, Sanchez fumbled a shotgun snap, and recovered it for a loss of eight.
Greene helped Sanchez and the offense recover from this with a 16-yard on 2nd-and-18. On third-and-two from the eight, Sanchez hit J-Co for a gain of six on the right side, with LB Lawrence Timmons in coverage (another example of the favorable matchups J-Co gets with Edwards and Holmes on the outside).
And then the disastrous end of this drive with the two questionable pass calls.
The Jets got the ball back immediately after a Mike DeVito safety on the first play of the Steelers possession, and Sanchez drove the Jets on a 10-play, 58-yard drive.
On the first play of this possession, Sanchez did a nice job of avoiding pass rusher Lamar Woodley, and rolled right and hit Edwards for a gain of 22 yards. Two plays later, Keller beat Timmons over the middle for a gain of nine. The next play, the Jets had a failed third-and-one run, but then a great call by B-Schotty on fourth-and-one, calling a pass to Edwards on the short right side for a gain of 10. Then on second-and-eight, the next two plays were short, out routes, on the right side to Keller, for gains of four and five yards.
Two plays later, Sanchez hit a wide open Cotchery on the short left side for a touchdown. J-Co was wide open because cornerbacks Ike Taylor and William Gay ran into each other.
The Jets never got the ball back.
A big problem for the Jets’ offense in this game was the bad run defense. Pittsburgh had the ball for about 10 more minutes than the Jets. I will get into the the reasons for the shaky run defense later in the week.
But kudos to Sanchez for playing very well, with a bad shoulder, in awful weather, in a very tough road environment. We all know that when you have an injury, cold weather makes it worse.
And for the people who want to fire Brian Shottenheimer because of two iffy play-calls on the goalline, they are being short-sided. Look at where Sanchez is now in his maturation process under Schotty and in his system. Throwing a new playbook at him, and giving him a new mentor, would be a huge mistake right now.