EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few hours before kickoff, Jets running back Curtis Martin went onto the field at the Meadowlands to practice running on the snow.
Whatever he did worked. Martin had 30 carries for 174 yards, finished with 228 all-purpose yards and etched his name in the NFL record books Sunday, helping the New York Jets beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 6-0. It was the first time in over three years the Steelers (5-9) were shut out, dating to a 16-0 loss to Baltimore on Sept. 3, 2000.
"I went out there early to get used to it and try to use it to my advantage," Martin said. "I said, 'I'm going to get a few people today.' I was confident I wasn't going to slip."
Doug Brien kicked two field goals to provide all the scoring, and the inconsistent defense made three defensive stands in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Pittsburgh had its chances, but Jeff Reed missed his field goal attempts of 42 and 20 yards wide left. With the loss, the Steelers were officially eliminated from playoff contention.
Martin stole the game after a winter storm dumped several inches of snow on the Northeast. He became just the second player in NFL history to top 1,000 yards in nine straight seasons to start a career, joining Barry Sanders as the only players in NFL history to accomplish the feat.
Sanders had 1,000 yards in each of his first 10 seasons.
"It is something that I feel good about," Martin said. "I'm not big on statistics and individual goals, but this one is special to me. I'm only the second person in the world to do this."
Martin also passed John Riggins for 11th place on the all-time rushing list. Martin has 11,488 career yards.
His rushing counterpart, Jerome Bettis, also passed Franco Harris for eighth place on the career rushing list, though Bettis was limited in the fourth quarter with a right knee injury and finished with 16 carries for 68 yards.
Bettis has 12,184 career yards.
Martin had his most productive game on the ground since rushing for 203 yards against Indianapolis on Dec. 3, 2000.
"There were a lot of missed tackles," Steelers end Kimo von Oelhoffen said. "We had our opportunities. The weather played a part, but we've got to make the tackles. Our defense is designed to stop the run. We missed too many tackles."
The last time the Jets (6-8) hosted a football game played in a snowstorm was Dec. 12, 1982, at Shea Stadium against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Jets beat the Bucs 32-17 in front of an announced crowd of 28,147.
The snow changed to rain in the second half, but by that time it was too late for the Steelers to mount a comeback. It was the lowest scoring game in the NFL this year.
"I don't know if you could have done a better job with the weather like that," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said. "Games like that are the games you dream about when you're a kid. It was a classic game, a game for the purists."
Brien kicked field goals of 28 and 41 yards in the first half, and the Jets held on after the break thanks to three defensive stands.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Tommy Maddox tried to engineer a rally. On third-and-goal from the Jets 6, Maddox threw an interception to Ray Mickens in the end zone. But officials made a questionable call on Aaron Beasley, whistling him for roughing the passer after making helmet-to-helmet contact.
The Steelers had a new set of downs, but failed to score a touchdown. Reed then missed the 20-yard field goal.
"There are no excuses," Reed said. "I missed two field goals and we lost by six points. I know the guys won't put it on me, but I take the blame myself."
Martin then marched the Jets down the field, and his 56-yard run to the Steelers 10 looked as though it would ice the game. But on the next play, LaMont Jordan mishandled the handoff from Chad Pennington and fumbled.
Mike Logan recovered for the Steelers. After driving to the Jets 16, they faced fourth-and-10 but Maddox threw incomplete. The Steelers had one final drive, but Maddox threw incomplete on fourth-and-10 from the 45.
Maddox finished the game with eight straight incompletions and was 16-of-38 for 137 yards.
"We needed to be tested, just to see who's going to compete when everything's against us," Jets tackle Josh Evans said. "Everybody could have given up, but it was nice to see everybody competing."
- Before the game started, a cheer went up after part of President George W. Bush's speech on the capture of Saddam Hussein was broadcast through the loudspeakers at the stadium.
- Steelers WR Hines Ward had five catches for 68 yards, going over 1,000 yards for the third straight season.
- Mickens had a career-high four passes defensed.
The Associated Press News Service
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