Moeller: Jets’ Defensive Effort Over Pittsburgh Validates their Move Toward the Next Level

After his team’s 16-10 victory over Pittsburgh Sunday at Met Life, Jets’ safety Jamal Adams summed up the afternoon perfectly, especially for the defense.

“It’s nice to keep on winning,” said the team’s emotional leader. “We’re getting there.”

The 6-9 Jets are. They are not where they want to be on offense and defense, but they certainly have turned the corner and are on the right track. Five wins out of their last seven games is proof enough to start. They took the first step to a new decade of Jets’ football.

It certainly wasn’t pretty. It was enough to finish the game. Like the Dallas game Oct. 13, they didn’t fold at the end.

It was enough to prove that they are ready for the next step. They won a game that really didn’t mean anything to them, but certainly more to Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes.

Their defense allowed the Steelers’ offense to flourish with all of their points in the second quarter, but they shut them down for the other three, particularly on third downs where Pittsburgh was 3-for-14 (21 percent).

They allowed the Steelers 260 yards of total offense and rattled their quarterback combination of Devin Hodges and Mason Rudolph all afternoon for four sacks and two key interceptions, one by Marcus Maye, in the corner of the end zone that saved a touchdown.

Maye broke up a pass downfield in the Steelers’ second-to-last play of the game before the Jets’ pass rush forced Hodges to throw a weak floater down the field that sealed the win.

On an afternoon where three-fourths of the stadium was a seemingly blanket of yellow and white – complete with twirling towels, the Jets took even further pleasure in closing out their home season with a 5-3 mark.

“We absolutely wanted to knock them out of playoff contention,” said a smiling Jordan Jenkins afterwards. “During practice this week, everyone was getting after it a little more. That’s what we

needed and it paid off. When we came in at halftime, we knew we had to go back out there, do our thing, and not panic.”

They didn’t. The Jets defense rose to the occasion I the second half and kept the Steelers’ offense in check while their own offense had an adequate performance at best, notably after again scoring on their opening drive.

From there, it was a strong performance from kicker Sam Ficken, who pushed across three field goals to compensate for the Jets’ 4-for-15 performance on third downs (27 percent).

The Jets can keep their momentum when they make the trek to Buffalo next Sunday to play a Bills’ team that may want to carry some of their own momentum into the upcoming playoffs and stay healthy in the process.

Whether or not they end their season with a win, the Jets closed a decade (2010-19) of overall mediocrity  –one AFC championship appearance – and blew open the door for the next decade.  

About the Author

Jeff Moeller

Jeff Moeller has been covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball as well as high school sports on a national and local scene for the past 39 years. He has been a Jets and Giants beat reporter for the past 13 years.

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