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Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Now comes the hard part for the New York Jets. It’s one thing to put up 48 points – a franchise record for a season opener – against the Buffalo Bills’ defense. It’s quite another to have success against the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road – something that had eluded them up until two seasons ago. After silencing their critics – for now – with an unexpected offensive outburst, the Jets will try to validate that effort with a second straight win over the Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday.
The Steelers, meanwhile, are seeking to bounce back from a season-opening loss to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos and will have safety Ryan Clark and possibly linebacker James Harrison back to help. The Jets, who hope to have former University of Pittsburgh star Darrelle Revis (mild concussion) in the lineup, earned their first-ever win in the Steel City 22-17 in 2010. The Steelers had won all seven previous home matchups and have won 17 of the 21 meetings, including a 24-19 victory in the 2010 AFC Championship game. Pittsburgh hasn’t started 0-2 since 2002.
ABOUT THE JETS (1-0): The Jets’ dominating 48-28 win over the Bills was perhaps the biggest surprise of the first week, mainly because New York infamously failed to score an offensive touchdown in the first three preseason games. Much-maligned QB Mark Sanchez threw for 266 yards and three scores – two to rookie Stephen Hill – and Antonio Cromartie returned one of three interceptions for a touchdown. There were two other surprising developments from the opener: The Jets’ suspect offensive line didn’t allow a sack and Tim Tebow (five carries, 11 yards, zero pass attempts) was a non-factor. The only negative from Sunday’s win was that Revis, who’s from nearby Aliquippa, suffered a concussion after being kicked in the head by a teammate. Revis was unable to practice again Thursday and the team will make a decision about his status Saturday.
ABOUT THE STEELERS (0-1): Pittsburgh struggled against the Broncos’ no-huddle offense without Clark (sickle cell anemia) and Harrison (knee). The top-ranked defense from a season ago allowed 334 yards and the Broncos converted 5 of 9 third downs. Clark should return this week, while Harrison is questionable. The 2008 Defensive Player of the Year is still making his way back from minor knee surgery. Ben Roethlisberger (22 of 40, 245 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT), operating in Todd Haley’s new offense, was efficient at times but also threw a game-clinching pick six. As expected, the Steelers’ offensive line failed to keep Roethlisberger clean (five sacks). The running game, meanwhile, averaged just 2.9 yards per carry. Second-year back Jonathan Dwyer (nine carries, 43 yards) outplayed Isaac Redman (11 carries, 20 yards) and should get more playing time with Rashard Mendenhall still recovering from a torn ACL.
1. Hill, a second-round pick, is the first Jets receiver to catch two touchdowns in his debut and the first receiver to do so since former Tampa Bay tight end Alex Smith in 2005.
2. Sanchez is 39 of 62 for 403 yards and two touchdowns in two career games against Pittsburgh.
3. This will be the second trip to Pittsburgh for former Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes – the Super Bowl XLIII MVP. He has eight catches for 101 yards and a touchdown against his former team.