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Jets’ Rex Ryan Salutes Steeler Fans

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(credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

(credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

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By Matt Pawlikowski

Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) vs. New York Jets (1-0)
Date: Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m., ET
Site: Heinz Field (65,500) • Pittsburgh, Pa.
Playing Surface: Natural Grass
TV Coverage: CBS (locally KDKA-TV, channel 2)
Announcers: Jim Nantz (play-by-play)
Phil Simms (analyst)

It’s not often that an opposing coach comes to Pittsburgh and pays homage to the Steelers and its fans, but its exactly what Jets coach Rex Ryan did early this week.

“This is the third time we have played them and its about as tough of a place to play as there is in football,” Ryan said. “ The fans are outstanding. Anytime I go into a visiting stadium I look at the jerseys. I don’t know why I do that, but how many different players names do they have on them? There’s Lambert, Greene, Mel Blount. They have Hines Ward and Jerome Bettis and a million of their current players. Most of the women out there have Troy Polomalu or Lambert jerseys, but it’s kind of neat to see when you go out there. I don’t know why I am bringing that up, but its Pittsburgh.”

Kudos aside, Ryan knows that despite their big win over Buffalo last weekend, the Steelers are hungry after losing to Denver.

“They are a very physical football team, with a huge offensive line,” Ryan said. “They are running more two back football, its like the old fashioned Pittsburgh football so we have to be ready for that. They have seven players over 30 on defense and they don’t make mistake. They don’t beat themselves, they are smart and Dick LeBeau is a tremendous coordinator.”

The Steelers lead the all time series against the Jets 17-4 and have won in Pittsburgh just once, in 2010, but the Steelers took the AFC Championship game the same year. One thing that stands out in the series is the fact the games have been close, especially as of late with five of the last six meetings being decided by six or less points.

2012 Regular Season Statistical Comparison

  • Points scored per game: Steelers 19.0; Jets 48.0
  • Points allowed per game: Steelers 31.0; Jets  28.0
  • First downs per game: Steelers 19; Jets 21.0
  • Total yards per game: Steelers 284.0; Jets 384.0
  • Rushing yards per game: Steelers 75.0; Jets 118.0
  • Passing yards per game: Steelers 209.0; Jets 266.0
  • Sacks by: Steelers 2; Jets 0
  • Interceptions by: Steelers: 0; Jets 1
  • Average time of possession: Steelers 35:05; Jets 31:18
  • Touchdowns: Steelers 2; Jets 6
  • Rushing touchdowns: Steelers 0; Jets 1
  • Passing touchdowns: Steelers 2; Jets 3
  • Touchdowns on returns: Steelers 0; Jets 2
  • Field Goals: Steelers 2-2; Jets 1-1
  • Punting average: Steelers 47.3; Jets 51.5
  • Punt return average: Steelers 11.5; Jets 68.0
  • Kickoff return average: Steelers 27.0; Jets 24.0

Key Matchups

Tebow Time Two?
Just how much action Tim Tebow sees against the Steelers is yet to be seen. Rumor has it offensive coordinator Tony Sparano has been told not to utilize the wildcat, but could that be just a smokescreen despite the fact he only lined up at quarterback eight times last week? Memories of last year’s playoff loss are still vivid in the Steelers’ defensive players’ minds, and Tebow may be one of the most hated men in Pittsburgh since Turkey Jones slammed Terry Bradshaw to the ground in the 70s. Look for more Tebow if the Steelers defense can hold Mark Sanchez in check.

Mike Wallace vs. Antonio Cromartie

Cromartie is a Pro Bowler. So is Wallace. Cromartie has speed, so does Wallace. Last week, Cromartie had an interception return for a touchdown. Wallace had a touchdown.

“He’s a great player,” Wallace said. “ but he’s going to have to be ready to play.

LaRon Landry against the Steelers line

Last week, Landry led the Jets with seven tackles. That was against Buffalo, and even though the Steelers line is a MASH unit as of late, Ben Roethlisberger should be able to run around enough to keep from Landry’s hands.

Darrelle Revis vs Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger played a good game against the Broncos in Week One, and has a chip on his shoulder, especially after tossing a game turning interception late in the fourth quarter for a touchdown. With Revis in the game, finding one of his speedsters deep could be a problem.

Whether he plays is still up in the air. Sunday against the Bills he suffered a concussion and wasn’t cleared for practice until Thursday,
“It’s been a fog, like being in a fog,” Revis told New York reporters on Thursday after being cleared for practice for the first time since the concussion. “I’ve never had a concussion, so this is something you’ve got to get guidance from the training staff and the doctors.”

One thing that could be interesting is the one-on-one matchups that could occur, which means Roethlisberger may try the same deep routes that burned the Jets in the playoffs two years ago.

For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Steelers news, see CBS Sports Pittsburgh.

Matt Pawlikowski is a veteran journalist covering all things Steelers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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