It wasn't frigid and there was no snow in the forecast at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, but the Jets and Steelers played vintage December football in New York's 16-10 win. Neither team totaled more than 260 yards; the two teams combined for 26 points and 2 touchdowns.
"It was a dogfight out there," QB Sam Darnold said. "It was fun, though. It's always fun to play those guys. It's a tough defense to play. I thought everyone played well on offense. The defense stepped up, but it was a dogfight. We knew that coming in and we did what we needed to do to get a win."
Darnold and Coach Adam Gase said they knew what type of game it was going to be. The Jets picked off Steelers QB Devlin Hodges, who was later benched and returned after Mason Rudolph hurt his shoulder, twice (Tarell Basham and Marcus Maye). The offense, however, was unable to score points off the turnovers. Robby Anderson scored on the Jets' opening drive on a 23-yard rope from Darnold. Sam Ficken kicked a field goal in each of the remaining quarters, including a career-long 54-yard boot in the second. Ficken later extended the Jets' lead to 16-10 with 3:15 left in regulation.
"We would've loved to score [touchdowns] instead of all three field goals," Darnold said. "We would've loved that. At the same time, we knew what kind of game it was going to be. They have a really good defense out there and so we went out there and did our job every single play. Some plays didn't go our way, others did. When it was time to execute, we did our job."
Darnold finished 16 for 26 for 183 yards and 1 touchdown for a 95.5 passer rating. He completed 69% of his passes in the first half compared to 50% in the second against the Steelers' No. 5 pass defense. The Jets didn't find great success rushing the ball either, combining for 85 yards on 32 carries. Former Steeler Le'Veon Bell carried the ball 25 times for 72 yards (2.9 yards per carry).
"It was tough to run the ball today," Darnold said. "I thought our O-line and Le'Veon and the running backs did a really good job of running the football all things considered. I thought that really got us going and I thought the run really set up the pass today really well."
The Jets (6-9) may be out of the postseason, but they are still playing with purpose.They have won five of their last seven games and finished 2019 with a 5-3 record at home.
"To get a win like that against a really good team with a lot of Steelers fans here, it was a really good time out there," Darnold said. "It was a fun game. We're just going to continue to play our ball no matter what the circumstances are."
Darnold added: "I've been saying it, we have such good guys in the locker room. Guys that don't care what's going on, we just care about winning for each other. We love each other so much that whatever goes on outside our locker room doesn't matter. We're just going to go out there and play football and try to win games."
See Best Images from the Matchup Against the Steelers