- Ben Roethlisberger
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Steelers 27, Jets 10
- 24-for-31, 275 YD, 2 TD, 0 INT
- Watch Highlights
- Cam Newton
- Carolina Panthers
- Panthers 35, Saints 27
- 14-for-20, 253 YD, 1 TD, 0 INT
- Watch Highlights
The Pregame Pressure
Roethlisberger didn't play up to his usual high standards in the Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 1 loss to the Denver Broncos; his accuracy was spotty throughout the game and he threw a costly pick-six in the fourth quarter. Roethlisberger needed to perform much better in Week 2 if the Steelers were going to defeat a talented New York Jets team coming off a dominating Week 1 victory over the Buffalo Bills. The Steelers were staring at a possible 0-2 start to the season, so there was plenty of pressure on Roethlisberger heading into this contest.
Newton rode into the first week of the season with extremely high expectations, but he failed to deliver the goods. The Carolina Panthers lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with Newton's offense generating just 10 points while he threw two costly interceptions and rushed for a meager four yards. Newton would need to do drastically better if the Panthers were to keep pace with the New Orleans Saints' explosive offense. The pressure was squarely on Newton to help the Panthers avoid a second straight defeat.
The In-Game Performance
Roethlisberger was very efficient and opportunistic in the Steelers' 27-10 victory over the Jets. He spread 24 completions to 10 different targets and avoided turning the ball over against a very aggressive defense. He consistently side-stepped pressure and delivered accurate balls down the field. He was dialed in from the start of the game, leading the Steelers to points on four of their first five possessions. He also finished strong, engineering a fourth-quarter touchdown drive that covered 75 yards and took 10 minutes and 13 seconds of the clock.
Newton was a dual-threat dynamo in the Panthers' 35-27 victory over the Saints, adding 71 rushing yards to his passing output. He used his vision and deep-ball accuracy to create explosive plays in the passing game, and also popped a 40-yard run while flawlessly operating the Panthers' zone-read scheme. His first two drives of the game failed to produce points, but Newton led the Panthers to four touchdowns in their next six possessions. He won't get the credit for this in the box score, but the threat he poses as a runner helped open up huge lanes for the Panthers' other ball carriers throughout the game.
The Post-Game Pick
This is a very close call, but I'm going to give the edge to Roethlisberger. Despite the absence of all-pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, the Jets' defense provided a much stiffer test for Roethlisberger than the New Orleans Saints did for Newton. Also, while the Panthers' star was fantastic, he did lose one fumble early in the game. Roethlisberger carefully navigated the Jets' complex blitzes and managed to avoid making any poor decisions with the football. He also found a way to lead the Steelers' offense to 27 points despite getting very little support from his running game (which produced 66 total rushing yards). -- Daniel Jeremiah