The Pittsburgh Steelers had a bit of a rollercoaster first half after jumping out to an early lead with a 72-yard strike to Sammie Coates, but the Jets went up 13-7 with just over two minutes to play in the half. Ben Roethlisberger commandeered an efficient two-minute drive with a one-yard touchdown to Jesse James, however, to retake the lead entering the half, with the Steelers set to begin the third quarter with the ball.
Cameron Heyward left the game with a hamstring injury and was deemed questionable to return. Shamarko Thomas also suffered a groin injury that forced him out of the game.
Following a touchback, Le’Veon Bell started off the first drive of the half with a one-yard run up the middle. Roethlisberger found Antonio Brown on a curl route for the first down. From the 42, Bell was stopped again after a two-yard gain. The Jets played the screen well on second down, forcing Bell out of bounds at near the line of scrimmage. After a quick snap, Roethlisberger nearly threw an interception to Marcus Williams intended for Brown. Jordan Berry‘s punt settled at the 14-yard line.
Matt Forte picked up a yard to open their first drive of the half. Stephon Tuitt nearly had a sack of Fitzpatrick on second down, but the quarterback stepped up in the pocket, throwing out of bounds. On third and nine, the pressure got home, registering their second sack of the day, with Lawrence Timmons there. Brown returned the punt 33 yards, who nearly broke it for a touchdown.
From the 31-yard line, Roethlisberger went back to Coates to the end zone, who had the opportunity pull in the ball for the score, but he dropped it. The commentators said that he suffered a laceration on his hand late in the first half and put on a different glove at halftime. Coates pushed off the cornerback on that play, and both got up worse for wear at the end of it.
A short underneath throw to Xavier Grimble picked up two yards. Roethlisberger looked like he slipped as he threw on third down, near no Steeler, and off the far hand of an outstretched defender. But Boswell salvaged the good field position, connecting on a field goal to take a 17-13 lead.
Fitzpatrick completed to his tight end on first down for a nine-yard gain. Jarvis Jones batted the pass up on second down, but it fell incomplete. On third and one, Jones was there to tackle Forte on the shovel pass to force a second three-and-out of the half. Brown had another nice return for 18 yards, getting out of bounds untouched.
From the 34, Roethlisberger threw a sideline pass to Coates, who was unable to get the ball. A screen the other way to Brown picked up one yard. Roethlisberger looked for Brown, but was off-target, as both offenses went three-and-out to start both of their drives, though one of Pittsburgh’s ended with a field goal. Berry’s 58-yard punt was fair caught at the 13.
Marshall picked up about eight yards on first down. Forte forced two tacklers to miss in the hole for a four-yard gain. Timmons was unable to bring down Enunwa prior to the first down.
From the 37, Williams made the tackle on Forte after a seven-yard gain. Powell punched through for seven, reaching midfield. It looked like Forte would get the edge on the next play, but Williams and Dangerfield were able to make the play for a loss of a yard. Fitzpatrick fired a quick pass over the middle to Enunwa, but it was incomplete. On third and 11, Fitzpatrick got hit as he threw to Marshall, but Cockrell got in there to deflect the pass and force a punt, which bounced into the end zone for a touchback.
From the 20, Roethlisberger looked for Bell for the first time of the half for an incompletion, but the Jets were flagged for pass interference on the play, a spot foul for a short gain as a result.
James held on for a first-down reception over the middle on the ensuing play. Bell was bottled up for no gain at the line of scrimmage. An underneath throw to Bell on second down went for 11 yards, untouched. From near midfield, Roethlisberger found Bell again for another 11-yard reception to the 40-yard line.
Back to the ground, Bell picked up six yards off left guard. After avoiding a tackle for loss, Bell cut upfield to gain two yards. On third and two, the Steelers got a free play with an offside call, and Roethlisberger found Coates open for a nice gain, hopefully to give the second-year man a boost of confidence.
From the 11, Roethlisberger connected with Wheaton over the middle for about five or six yards on the final play of the third quarter. From the five-yard line, Roethlisberger had time to throw, and eventually found Brown open for the touchdown, Brown’s fifth touchdown in five games, and the fourth time this year Roethlisberger has thrown at least three touchdown passes.
The Steelers coverage made the tackle on the ensuing kickoff at the 20-yard line. Powell was dropped at the line of scrimmage on first down. The pass to Marshall with Cockrell in coverage was incomplete. On third and long, Powell was able to pick up nine yards taking a pitch, but his knee was down prior to reaching the first-down marker. New York challenged the spot, but the review confirmed the ruling on the field. The punt took a Steelers bounce and was downed at the 38-yard line.
Roethlisberger looked to James on first down with a catch-and-run for 13 yards. Bell picked up two yards with little room to run for most of the day. Another pass to Brown went for 16 yards to the 31. Wheaton caught a ball on a drag route and shook a defender for the first down.
From the 18, Bell was able to spin forward for about five yards up the middle. On the following play, however, Roethlisberger was hit from behind as he held on to the ball. It popped out and went right to the Jets for a sack fumble and a recovery by the defense.
From the 19, Fitzpatrick found Marshall for a 19-yard gain. Williams caught a fleeing Fitzpatrick, however, to register his second sack of the season. On second and 12, a 10-yard reception set up third and two. Fitzpatrick could not connect with Marshall over the middle on a low throw. The Jets elected to punt, fair caught at the 21.
Consistent with the theme of little room to run, Bell picked up two yards up the middle. On second down, Roethlisberger found Bell running away from the linebacker for an easy first down, his ninth reception for 88 yards.
From the 39, Bell was able to pick up eight on the ground on a misdirection run off the left side, with James blocking on the edge. On second and two, Roethlisberger found Coates on a short route for eight yards to cross midfield.
From the Jets’ 45, Bell threatened to break through a crease, but had to settle for about three and a half yards. Another connection to Coates picked up another 11 or so. From the 29, Bell got stuffed at the line of scrimmage. Pass interference on a pass toward Brown moved the ball to the 21.
A short pass to James was caught for four yards, who did a nice job again of holding on to the ball. Another quick hitter went to Brown to move the sticks for 10 yards to the seven. Bell split two defenders up the middle, but Roethlisberger tossed the ball too far into the end zone. On second and goal, Bell was knocked out of bounds on the ground for about two yards, setting up third and goal. Roethlisberger found Coates again crossing the goal line for his second touchdown of the day, as the Steelers took a 31-13 lead on Roethlisberger’s fourth touchdown pass.
Fitzpatrick on first down did a nice job of escaping a sack, and got the ball out for a nine-yard reception. Dangerfield tackled Powell in the air on a screen after a 10-plus-yard gain. The Jets used their final timeout with 1:08 remaining at the 46. Jones leveled Fitzpatrick, but he was still able to get the ball out to avoid the sack. Davis nearly had an interception defending Enunwa down the field. A cat blitz forced an early throw to the back for an incompletion. On fourth and 10, Timmons blew up a screen to Powell for a loss to end the game.