Early on at Heinz Field on Sunday afternoon, the Jets' passing game was crisp and looked as if it could possibly be on a path similar to the one it took against Buffalo one week ago.
Big plays were being converted. Points were being scored. Momentum appeared to be growing.
Then after the first two series, the Green & White offense went stagnant, not scoring again the remainder of the afternoon as the Jets fell, 27-10, to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"It's a tough loss," quarterback Mark Sanchez said, "but it's the same thing with Buffalo. You can't get too high after a win, and you can't get too low after a loss. Take it on the chin and move on."
Playing against his former team, Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes was fired up from the onset and proved to be Sanchez's favorite target on the day. No. 10 was targeted 11 times, hauled in three receptions for 28 yards and a touchdown — his first of the 2012 season.
"We targeted Santonio quite a bit," Sanchez said. "So that's just kind of how the game went."
After Pittsburgh connected on a 45-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead to open the game, Sanchez and the Jets offense responded, going on a 90-yard scoring drive capped when Holmes caught a 14-yard slant TD pass to give the Jets a 7-3 lead with 4:19 to go in the first quarter.
The series also featured WR Jeremy Kerley producing the longest pass completion of his career, a 45-yard reception from Sanchez that moved the Jets to the Pittsburgh 21. Kerley finished the day with two catches for 67 yards.
On the second series, Sanchez didn't complete a pass, yet the Green & White's rushing attack made up for the lack of completions as RB Bilal Powell carried four times for 21 yards and got them into field goal range. Nick Folk connected on a 38-yarder to give the Jets a 10-6 lead with 9:35 left in the second quarter.
Following that drive, the Jets offense seemed to disappear. The stat of the night came in the category of third-down efficiency. Pittsburgh connected on eight of 15 third downs (53.3%), whereas New York was just 4-of-12 (33.3%) and 1-of-their-last-7. In their season opener, the Jets were an impressive 10-of-14 (71%) in the category.
"Well, obviously it's poor execution on our part," head coach Rex Ryan said, "but you have to give Pittsburgh credit. They do a good job. We knew they were going to challenge our receivers. They were going to get in our face and put their hands on us and they did a good job on that, obviously."
The Jets were also hoping for another big performance from rookie WR Stephen Hill, who last week in his NFL debut finished with five receptions for 89 yards and two touchdowns. The Jets' second-round draft selection was targeted twice during the game and finished with no catches.
"Last week he has two big touchdowns and Tone doesn't," Sanchez said. "This week Tone gets a touchdown and Stephen doesn't. Sometimes that's the way it happens."
The Jets will look to put this game behind them as quickly as possible and begin shifting their attention to their next opponent, which happens to be division rival Miami. "Nothing is frustrating to us," Holmes said. "Nothing at all is frustrating to us. These guys came out and played hard. We've got to get in and assess how we did. We can't control what happened today. Today is over with. We're looking forward to next week."