Home Sweet Home
The Jets finished their home slate in winning fashion, capturing a 16-10 decision over the Steelers on Sunday. In taking down the playoff hopefuls, the Green & White won their fourth consecutive contest at MetLife Stadium and completed the year with a 5-3 mark at home. After dropping their first two home games, the Jets went 5-1 down the stretch.
"I think it's important to have a winning record at home," Coach Adam Gase said. "That's something we wanted to establish that when we play at home, we're at tough team to beat. Being able to start 5-3 at home in Year 1, that's a positive thing for our program."
Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams was credited with 8 tackles and 2 TFL in his return after a two-game absence and the Jets shut out the Steelers in the second half. In a game where yards were hard to come by, it was rookie TE Trevon Wesco's 32-yard reception that set up Sam Ficken's go-ahead 37-yard field goal in the third stanza.
"They left me wide open," Wesco said. "Sam hit me and I just tried to do the rest. Anything I can do to contribute. Coach Gase called the play and I guess it was a busted coverage. As soon as I saw the open space, I just wanted to get vertical.
Ficken would tack on another field goal and Le'Veon Bell, who had a critical third-down conversion in the fourth quarter and ran for a well-earned 72 yards, grabbed a W against his former club.
"Coach Gase came up before the game and told me, 'I got you, you're going to get the ball today.'
See Best Images from the Matchup Against the Steelers
With the secondary bolstered by the returns of their star safety and nickel corner Brian Poole, the Jets took advantage of rookie QB Devlin (Duck) Hodges with two interceptions. Adams' pressure in the first quarter hurried Hodges into a throw over the middle that resulted in Tarell Basham's first career interception. Then Hodges cost his team points in the second quarter, recklessly throwing into the end zone and hoping to connect with RB Jaylen Samuels. Free safety Marcus Maye read Hodges and made like a receiver to haul in the pass and get his feet in bounds. Down by 10-0 and with his team's playoff hopes flickering, Mike Tomlin made the move to bench Hodges and insert Mason Rudolph, but Hodges returned in the fourth quarter when Rudolph exited with a left-shoulder injury.
The Jets were in full control early, owning a 10-0 lead courtesy of Robby Anderson's 23-yard scoring reception and Ficken's career-long 54-yard field goal. But Rudolph beat a blitz with a perfectly executed 23-yard screen to Samuels to set up a field goal. In the waning seconds of the first half, T. J. Watt recorded a strip-sack of Darnold in plus territory and recovered the fumble. And then with 9 seconds on the game clock, wide receiver Diontae Johnson sprinted pass cornerback Bless Austin and was on the receiving end of 29-yard score.
"We knew physically we had these guys beat and we had to keep doing our thing," said OLB Jordan Jenkins, who had two tackles. "There was no lull and we were excited to get back out there."
When the Jets defense took the field to start the third quarter, Maurice Canady had replaced Austin on the outside. Gregg Williams' unit was stellar throughout, holding Pittsburgh to 260 yards and 23% on third down (3 of 14). Maye had a brilliant pass defense in the closing seconds, preventing a long touchdown from Hodges to James Washington.
"He balled," Adams said of Maye. "I told him the best play I've seen him make (not even the pick) was that last one where he ripped it out. That was a phenomenal play. Marcus Maye doesn't get a lot of credit obviously. He's very underrated."
The Jets moved to 6-9 while the Steelers fell to 8-7 and Anderson celebrated the win by dousing former Steelers great Hines Ward, a Jets assistant, with a Gatorade bath.