The Pittsburgh Steelers took a big step in the wrong direction on Sunday, dropping a 20-13 road contest to a woeful New York Jets team that entered the week on an eight-game losing streak. Pittsburgh was silenced after a run of three straight wins and back-to-back impressive outings against Indianapolis and Baltimore.
The loss was not Pittsburgh’s finest hour and seemed to back a trend of unexpected losses to bad teams. The Steelers also have a loss to struggling Tampa Bay (1-8) and blowout losses to AFC North rivals Baltimore and Cleveland. They have another winnable road game at Tennessee (2-7) before their Week 12 bye.
The Jets deployed new defensive wrinkles to slow an air attack that scored 124 combined points in wins over Houston, Indianapolis and Baltimore. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 343 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions and didn’t lead a touchdown drive until the 1:16 mark in the fourth quarter.
Pittsburgh is in a fight for its playoff life in the rugged AFC North, and each of its final six games is going to count. A bounce-back win over the Titans on Monday night can get the ball rolling again in the right direction, and two pivotal matchups remain against a scuffling Cincinnati Bengals team that currently trails division leader Cleveland by half a game in the standings.
Winnable road matchups at Tennessee and Atlanta (Dec. 14) will be key games in the Steelers’ playoff push. Mike Tomlin’s team also has the benefit of playing its last two games of the season at home, where the Steelers have won four of their five games this season.
But can any game on the schedule be taken for granted after the Steelers’ Week 10 showing? If the Steelers continue to struggle, are the jobs of Tomlin and his coaching staff in jeopardy? Jon Ritchie and Dustin Hockensmith debate those points in this week’s Keystone Sports Network podcast.