The Jets' offense was night and day in its 31-13 loss to the Steelers. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick finished the day with 255 yards and a touchdown while completing 66% of his passes. Fitzpatrick, who has been the victim of the turnover plague the past couple of weeks, was error free against a Pittsburgh secondary that ranked 30th against the pass entering Sunday's game. In fact, he was hot right out of the gate, hitting WR Quincy Enunwa for a 13-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage.
The Green & White drew first blood, scoring on their opening possession for the fourth time this season, via a 35-yard Nick Folk field goal that capped off an eight play, 58-yard drive.
"We have the ability to do that against any defense," WR Quincy Enunwa said. "Turnovers were not a problem in this game but it was execution. In the first half we were moving the ball and in the second half we could not figure it out. They definitely did some different things in the second half but nothing that we could not have combatted. So hopefully we can watch the film and see what we did wrong. It's never as bad as it looks and it's never as good as it looks."
Enunwa, who was questionable with a knee injury entering Sunday's game, hauled in four catches for 51 yards, but was held to just one catch for 11 yards in the second half. Receiving counterpart Brandon Marshall had a good day, finishing with eight receptions for 114 yards and caught his second touchdown of the season on a 15-yard pass that was tipped by DB Ross Cockrell. The touchdown catch gave the Jets a 13-7 lead with just over two minutes remaining in the first half.
Marshall's performance found the way into the record books yet again. His 81st career touchdown catch moved him to 24th in all-time NFL history, tying with former Jets WR Art Powell. Additionally, he became the third fastest player to reach 900 receptions for his career (157), behind WRs Marvin Harrison (149) and Andre Johnson (150). Marshall is now one of 13 receivers in NFL history to amass 900 career receptions, 11,000 receiving yards and 80 touchdowns.
Like the rest of the Jets offense, Marshall stalled in the second half. Of his 114 receiving yards, 28 came in the final 30 minutes. He was also the intended receiver on a third and two with 7:40 remaining in the game down by two scores. The ball was a little low, allowing Cockrell to knock it down, resulting in a Lachlan Edwards punt. The Steelers scored on the ensuing drive and chewed almost six minutes off the clock, putting the game out of reach. Fitzpatrick and Marshall were on the same page after the game.
"It was rhythm," Marshall said about the second half offensive struggles. "We have a good play here and then we misfire on the next. We have to play cleaner."
"Well that's what we have to go and figure out," Fitzpatrick said. "We just haven't been able to make enough plays. Even today, I missed Brandon Marshall on a slant on third down that was a 99/100 ball that I can't miss. It was a key situation that took our offense off the field. So there are things popping up. We are not hitting things like we do. We just have to continue to put the work in and start seeing the results on Sunday."
The Jets relied on the air attack today because they were playing catchup and the Steelers defensive line was bottling up RB Matt Forte. Forté finished the day with 53 yards on 12 carries, but broke free for a season-long 28-yard run on a third and one. Like Marshall, the two-time Pro Bowler also etched his way into NFL history, becoming the 10th running back in NFL history with 500 receptions. He is the fourth back in league history to accomplish this feat in fewer than 125 games, a list that includes Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk, Roger Craig and LaDainian Tomlinson.