The Steelers win over the Jets in week, 27-10 will largely be remembered as a performance where the offense was able control the clock and close out the game with a late score. Time of Possession was huge in the favor of Pittsburgh as they held onto the ball for 36:36, keeping the Jets’ offense on the bench.
We talked about how the offense was able to move the chains, keep the clock running, and converting big 3rd and long situations, but there is a play that was possibly the turning point of the game for the entire team. That play didn’t come from Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Wallace, or Antonio Brown; it came from Middle Linebacker Lawrence Timmons.
As Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pointed out on Monday, the hit that Timmons put on Jets QB Mark Sanchez may have been costly in terms of the penalty, but it did turn the tide for the Steelers if you will…At least that’s what I got out of the following statement. “Lawrence Timmons got flagged and he may get fined for a second-quarter hit on Mark Sanchez, a high hit. But Sanchez was never the same after that. He completed 4 of 5 for 80 yards on New York’s first drive, including a 14-yard TD to Santonio Holmes. Timmons’ hit occurred while Sanchez tried to pass the next time, on a second-quarter drive. From there on, Sanchez completed just 6 of 22 passes for 58 yards.”
That hit on Sanchez cost the Steelers 15 yds in field position and gave the Jets a fresh set of downs, but in hindsight was worth it if you ask me.
Before anyone starts jumping up and down saying that a head shot is never worth it, let me clarify. I’m not insinuating by any means that Ed was or is in favor of using your head to tackle, he was merely making an observation based on how the game went and the eventual outcome. Also, neither Mike Tomlin nor Dick Lebeau will ever teach their players that intentionally going for the head is a good idea, especially given Tomlin’s involvement with UPMC and head trauma awareness in the NFL. However, as we know when it comes to the Steelers defense, they are aggressive, persistent, and known for huge hits. Things were different in the NFL up until the last few years; the rules have changed and many teams have had some issues adapting at times. I’m sure Timmons didn’t think to himself, “Hey I’m going to hit him in the head” on his way to the Quarterback, but sometimes it just happens.
No sense dwelling on the reasons why it happened; it did and Sanchez was never the same afterwards. The NFL is ruthless; these guys spend their whole lives learning how to hit someone and if during one of those hits a player from the opposition goes down or is otherwise affected, that’s life. Even in the wake of the Saints Bounty Gate, some things never change. As you can see I’m not one who’s in love with the new, softer, NFL. I’m all for player safety but I’m also all for an NFL that lets the players do what they do best, on both sides of the ball.
Mark Sanchez, now in his 4th season, has been known to get rattled if the defense gets pressure in his face. You can make a case that maybe the Jets should have gone to Tim Tebow sooner, but Sanchez was not injured on the play. It was apparent, at least to me, that he was looking over his shoulder the rest of the game and when you get a QB feeling that kind of heat, it’s a benefit to the defense.
Certainly the rest of the defense had something to do with the ineffectiveness of the Jets offense but Timmons lead the way with a play that cost the Steelers at the time, but paid dividends later on.
Take Bouchette’s thoughts any way you like, perhaps you agree with me, perhaps not. That’s ok, but the Steelers won and sometimes things have a funny way of working themselves out.