Steelers 19, Jets 6
Strategy: In their second year under offensive coordinator Todd Haley, the Steelers remain a pass-oriented team. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took a few shots down the field, but more often he was throwing short, including 11 passes short of the line of scrimmage. Wide-outs, running backs and tight ends were all used in the screen game. They did run the ball 26 times against the Jets, though that was a byproduct of them getting out to a two-touchdown lead. There are a lot of new faces on the defense, but they still are schematically similar to the Steelers of recent years, running a 3-4 base with coordinator Dick LeBeau's creative zone blitzes.
Personnel: Steelers stalwarts such as outside linebacker James Harrison, nose tackle Casey Hampton and inside linebacker James Farrior are gone, replaced by the likes of Jarvis Jones, Steve McClendon and Vince Williams. A few familiar faces from the Ravens-Steelers rivalry remain, though, such as strong safety Troy Polamalu and outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley. The Steelers traded for left tackle Levi Brown, but he suffered a triceps injury during warmups, forcing Kelvin Beachum to make an emergency start. Fernando Velasco has replaced the injuredMaurkice Pouncey at center. Rookie Le'Veon Bell has taken over as the starting running back.
What went right: Despite sending more than four pass rushers sparingly, the Steelers defense had Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith on the run all game, sacking him three times and picking him off twice. Polamalu is not as quick as he was in his prime, but he was a disruptive player against the Jets. Offensively, the Steelers, who used a lot of two-receiver sets, were efficient with their short passing game as Roethlisberger threw just seven incompletions and quickly got the ball into the hands of wide receiver Antonio Brown and tight end Heath Miller. They pulled a double-pass play out of their bag of tricks with Brown completing a pass for 15 yards. The Steelers averaged just 2.8 yards per carry, but their commitment to the run helped Roethlisberger connect with Emmanuel Sanders on a play-action pass for a 55-yard touchdown.
What went wrong: Rex Ryan's tough 3-4 defensive front smothered the Steelers running game, allowing a long gain of 11 yards and just two runs for 10 or more yards. The Pittsburgh offense continued to struggle in the red zone, settling for field goals in both of their trips inside of the 20-yard line because their smallish wide receivers couldn't find open space. The Steelers showed some cracks against the run, allowing 4.2 yards per carry. They did not defend some read-option plays well, though the Ravens aren't likely to turn Joe Flacco into a running quarterback. Jets wide receiver Stephen Hill got behind Polamalu and cornerback Ike Taylor on one play that should have been a touchdown, but Smith overthrew Hill in the open field.
Turning point: After falling behind by 10 points early in the third quarter, the Jets moved the ball to the Steelers' 23-yard line. But Smith threw a pass into triple coverage and was picked off by free safety Ryan Clark, who was in a deep zone, at the 1-yard line. The Jets wouldn't return to Steelers territory until late in the fourth when the game was pretty much wrapped up.
X-factor: The Ravens split the season series last year against the Steelers, but they were without their starting quarterback. Roethlisberger will play this weekend and appears to be as healthy and spry as he can get. Ravens fans are all too familiar with what the quarterback, who looks more like a bouncer than a pretty boy, is capable of when he extends plays in the pocket.
—Matt VenselCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun