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New York at Pittsburgh

Jets notch first win in Pittsburgh; Steelers in playoffs

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

PITTSBURGH -- Mark Sanchez promised his Jets teammates he wasn't losing this one.

Not to a team the Jets had never beaten on the road. Not even after successive demoralizing losses led to speculation they were collapsing.

Sanchez didn't lose it. But before he could celebrate, he waited out two agonizing minutes as one of the NFL's best last-gasp quarterbacks nearly stole a victory the Jets desperately needed.

Sanchez stood up to the pressure created by the Steelers' defense and his team's two-game losing streak, scrambling for the Jets' first offensive touchdown in 12 quarters and leading a decisive field-goal drive as New York beat Pittsburgh 22-17 on Sunday.

"We wanted to get to 10 wins, that was our goal, and I'm really proud of the guys for rallying," said Sanchez, who played terribly in losses to the Patriots (45-3) and Dolphins (10-6).

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He's also very, very relieved the Steelers didn't rally. The Jets (10-4) held on to win even as Ben Roethlisberger drove the Steelers from their own 8 to New York's 10 in the final 2:08, only to throw incomplete on the final two plays.

"This win might surprise a lot of people, but it didn't surprise us," said coach Rex Ryan, who showed his team's toughness by going without a sideline jacket on a 25-degree day. "We needed it huge. There's no question."

Despite losing, the Steelers (10-4) were told by the NFL nearly an hour after the game ended that they secured a playoff spot via a series of complicated strength-of-schedule tiebreakers.

Pittsburgh also owns the division tiebreaker and will beat out Baltimore (10-4) for the AFC North title if it defeats Carolina on Thursday and Cleveland on Jan. 2.

"We've just got to win two more games, very winnable games, teams we match up well against," safety Ryan Clark said. "We still can win this division."

The Jets, nearing a playoff spot, won in Pittsburgh for the first time after going 0-7 there since the 1970 merger. Only two NFL teams have longer winless streaks in an opposing city during that span.

"It was a relief," right tackle Wayne Hunter said. "It really was a relief, and a big burden off our shoulders."

Especially Sanchez's shoulders. He went 19 of 29 for 170 yards against a No. 4-ranked defense that was missing injured safety Troy Polamalu (Achilles' tendon), with Braylon Edwards making eight catches for 100 yards. New York won in one of the NFL's most difficult road venues despite being outgained 378-276.

CBSSports.com Grades
New York Jets
New York Jets
A
Mark Sanchez was poised in the pocket, the offensive line pushed back the Steelers front seven, and LaDainian Tomlinson ran hard. The defense made the key stops when they had to.
Pitsburgh Steelers
Pitsburgh Steelers
B-
The offense moved the ball well and Rashard Mendenhall broke the 100-yard plateau. The defense didn't get much pressure on Mark Sanchez. The missed block that lead to a Jets safety was a back breaker.
By Brian Carson
RapidReports Correspondent

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Sanchez was sacked only once, and didn't throw an interception for the first time in nine games.

"It's been a tough couple of weeks, but when he stood up in that huddle and he said, 'I'm going to play better. I'm not going to continue to turn the ball over' ... you had to believe the guy," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said.

The Steelers believed they were going to win it, too.

"It was nerve-racking," Edwards said.

Roethlisberger (23 of 44, 264 yards) repeatedly kept the final drive going, finding rookie Emmanuel Sanders for 29 yards on third-and-24, Mike Wallace for 18 on third-and-10 and Antonio Brown for 16 on third-and-10 before failing to connect with Sanders and tight end Matt Spaeth on the final two plays.

"I told the guys, let's be great, let's go down the field and score. We got close, but not close enough," Roethlisberger said.

The Steelers had to go for a touchdown on the final drive rather than settling for a field goal because Mewelde Moore was tackled in the end zone for a safety by Jason Taylor with 2:38 remaining.

Spaeth, filling in for the injured Heath Miller (concussion) as the top tight end, earlier had a 9-yard TD catch that finished off a 16-play, 96-yard drive that tied it at 7.

Pittsburgh later took its first lead at 17-10 on Rashard Mendenhall's 2-yard run. The Steelers, winners of their previous four, shook off Brad Smith's 97-yard kickoff return on the game's opening play to take that lead, but couldn't hold it.

Sanchez fooled the NFL's best run defense by faking a handoff before racing into the end zone untouched on a tying 7-yard TD run in the third quarter.

"We practiced it against our defense and it caught them off guard," Sanchez said. "It was a great call at the right time."

The Jets ran for 106 yards against a defense that came in allowing 60 yards rushing per game.

Sanchez followed his TD run by hitting Edwards for 16 yards on a key third-and-9 play, leading to Nick Folk's go-ahead 34-yard field goal on a snow-splattered turf with 10:07 remaining. Folk hit earlier from 25 yards.

Notes

  • New York is 6-1 on the road; Pittsburgh is 4-3 at home.
  • Mendenhall ran for 100 yards on 17 carries against the NFL's No. 3 defense, only his second 100-yard effort in 11 games. Wallace had seven catches for 102 yards.
  • The Jets are 4-16 against Pittsburgh.
  • Pittsburgh had 35 yards in penalties after having 420 in its previous four games.
  • The Jets were without strength coach Sal Alosi, who was suspended indefinitely after kneeing a Dolphins player on a kick return last week.
  • Jets WR Santonio Holmes, the Super Bowl MVP two seasons ago, had six catches for 40 yards.
  • The Steelers gave up a league-high four such touchdowns last season, but Smith's score was the first against them this season. The Jets have a league-high 14 kickoff return scores since 2001.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Sun. Dec. 19Final
NY Jets
(10-4)
737522
0107017
JetsSteelers
Pass: M. Sanchez (19-29, 170) B. Roethlisberger (23-44, 264)
Rush: L. Tomlinson (11-49) R. Mendenhall (17-100)
Rec: B. Edwards (8-100) M. Wallace (7-102)
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
TDBrad Smith, 97 Yd kick return (Nick Folk kick is good), 14:48.
2ND QUARTER
TDMatt Spaeth, 9 Yd pass from Ben Roethlisberger (Shaun Suisham kick is good), 7:29. Drive: 16 plays, 96 yards in 8:12.
FGNick Folk, 25 Yd, 2:48. Drive: 9 plays, 56 yards in 4:41.
FGShaun Suisham, 42 Yd, 0:33. Drive: 10 plays, 53 yards in 2:15.
3RD QUARTER
TDRashard Mendenhall, 2 Yd run (Shaun Suisham kick is good), 9:03. Drive: 9 plays, 74 yards in 5:57.
TDMark Sanchez, 7 Yd run (Nick Folk kick is good), 5:14. Drive: 8 plays, 66 yards in 3:49.
4TH QUARTER
FGNick Folk, 34 Yd, 10:07. Drive: 13 plays, 50 yards in 6:47.
SAFETYJason Taylor, 2:38.
Players of the Game

R. Mendenhall
Rush 17
Yds 100
Avg 5.9
TD 1

B. Edwards
Rec 8
Yds 100
Avg 12.5
TD 0
 
New York
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
M. Sanchez19/2917000
RushingATTYDSTDLG
L. Tomlinson1149011
S. Greene124006
M. Sanchez31517
B. Smith1202
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
B. Edwards8100038
S. Holmes640011
D. Keller319011
L. Tomlinson1606
S. Greene1505
Pittsburgh
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
B. Roethlisberger23/4426410
RushingATTYDSTDLG
R. Mendenhall17100121
B. Roethlisberger225022
M. Wallace1808
M. Moore4706
I. Redman1707
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
M. Wallace7102023
E. Sanders778029
H. Ward234018
M. Spaeth327113
A. Brown215016
A. Randle El1808
M. Moore1000
Complete Player Stats
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SF 7 Final
SD 34
NO 24 Final
BAL 30
ARI 12 Final
CAR 19
CLE 17 Final
CIN 19
WAS 30 Final
DAL 33
JAC 24 Final
IND 34
BUF 17 Final
MIA 14
PHI 38 Final
NYG 31
KC 27 Final
STL 13
DET 23 Final
TB 20
HOU 17 Final
TEN 31
ATL 34 Final
SEA 18
DEN 23 Final
OAK 39
GB 27 Final
NE 31
CHI 40 Final
MIN 14