Cau­tious Jets can't keep up with Steel­ers

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Will Graves

Trail­ing by two scores and time tick­ing away, Jets coach Todd Bowles opted to play it safe. Twice.

PITTS­BURGH >> Trail­ing by two scores in the fourth quar­ter and time tick­ing away on Sun­day, New York Jets coach Todd Bowles opted to play it safe. Twice. All it did was cost the Jets a chance to keep the ex­plo­sive Pitts­burgh Steel­ers within arm’s reach.

Not that Bowles was in the mood to se­cond-guess him­self fol­low­ing a 31-13 loss that dropped his team to 1-4. Given a choice, he’d kick again. Both times.

“If it was the same sit­u­a­tion, I’d prob­a­bly punt,” Bowles said. “When you talk hy­po­thet­i­cally af­ter you lose a ball­game, it doesn’t help any­one. I stand by that de­ci­sion.”

And the Jets find them­selves stand­ing at the bot­tom of the AFC East along with the Mi-

ami Dol­phins. New York was com­pet­i­tive for most of the game against one of the NFL’s most dy­namic of­fenses and even led 13-7 late in the se­cond quar­ter be­fore a sec­ondary miss­ing star cor­ner­back Dar­relle Re­vis cracked.

The Steel­ers roared back to go up 24-13 on a touch­down pass from Ben Roeth­lis­berger to An­to­nio Brown with 14:55 to go.

The Jets faced a fourt­hand-1 at their own 29 with just over 13 min­utes to go when Ryan Fitz­patrick hit Bi­lal Powell for an 8-yard gain.

Bowles chal­lenged the spot, only to see it up­held on re­play.

Need­ing about a foot to ex­tend the drive and keep Roeth­lis­berger and com­pany off the field, New York punted.

The Steel­ers promptly moved deep into Jets ter­ri­tory be­fore a fum­ble by Roeth­lis­berger was re­cov­ered by Shel­don Richard­son.

The Jets made it to mid­field when Fitz­patrick missed Bran­don Mar­shall on third-and-2 at the New York 46 with 7:36 to go.

Again, Bowles sent on punter Lach­lan Ed­wards. This time, the Steel­ers went 79 yards in 12 plays, fin­ish­ing off the Jets with a 5-yard pass from Roeth­lis­berger to Sam­mie Coates.

“There was enough time on the clock,” Bowles said. “We fig­ured we could get them pinned down there and go three-and-out. That’s what we were think­ing.”

In­stead, the Jets find them­selves find them­selves on a three-game los­ing streak head­ing to a Mon­day night trip to Ari­zona next week.

Fitz­patrick, who turned it over 10 times in the pre­vi­ous two weeks, avoided crit­i­cal mis­takes and com­pleted 25 of 38 passes for 255 yards and a 15-yard TD toss to Mar­shall. Yet he was also on the side­line watch­ing help­lessly while the Steel­ers went on their clin­i­cal clinch­ing drive.

The vet­eran re­fused to blame Bowles, in­stead

point­ing the fin­ger at him­self for not con­nect­ing with Mar­shall, an in­com­ple­tion that set up Bowles’ cau­tious call.

“What was go­ing through my head was, ‘I can’t be­lieve I missed that throw on third down,”’ Fitz­patrick said. “That whole sce­nario we shouldn’t have been in be­cause I shouldn’t have made that poor throw the down be­fore.

“I know we all have faith and con­fi­dence in coach.”

Maybe, but a year af­ter go­ing 10-6 and nar­rowly miss­ing the play­offs, the

Jets sud­denly find them­selves with lit­tle room for er­ror.

“Peo­ple in the me­dia are go­ing to call us out, are go­ing to ask to bench us, in­clud­ing me,” said Mar­shall, who caught eight passes for 114 yards and the sec­ondquar­ter score. “It’s a good posi­ton for us.

“We have one of the most-tal­ented teams in the league. We can ei­ther fold it up or con­tinue to stick to it and work. Plenty of teams have been in this posi­ton and come out bet­ter on the other side.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.