Ben Roethlisberger played mistake-free football, and Mike Tomlin's defense made Geno Smith look like a confused rookie in the Steelers' 19-6 win over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
The win moves the Steelers to 1-4 with a home matchup up next against the Baltimore Ravens. Pittsburgh remains in a deep hole, but Sunday counts as progress. We hadn't seen any of that before now.
Here's what else we learned:
- The GenoCoaster rolls on. After looking like one of the league's most promising rookies in Monday night's win over the Atlanta Falcons, Smith regressed with an ugly showing at home. He overshot a wide open Stephen Hill on what should have been a long TD in the second quarter. He then threw two killerinterceptions near the Steelers' goal line in the second half. A definitive step back.
- We don't know how much the knee injury Antonio Cromartie suffered in practice this week set him back, but he didn't look like the same player on Sunday. Cromartie was burned on a 55-yard touchdown pass and flagged for a 25-yard pass-interference penalty. The cornerback would've beaten for a second TD had Antonio Brown not dropped a pass in the end zone.
- The Steelers entered Sunday ranked 10th in total defense, but the unit's inability to make game-changing plays played a role in the team's 0-4 start. That changed against the Jets, as Ryan Clark and Lawrence Timmons both pickedoffGeno Smith passes in the red zone. Clark could've had another interception, but Smith's pass clanged off his hands. The Steelers' pass rush also forced Smith's hand on several throws. A promising day for the unit.
- Though we don't imagine it was Clark's words that motivated him, Roethlisberger played a clean, efficient game, consisently finding pockets in the middle of the Jets' defense. Matt Ryan did the same thing to Rex Ryan's D on Monday night.
- Geno Smith deserves the criticism that will come his way this week, but we can't imagine it's easy to make plays when you're throwing to the Konrad Reulands and Clyde Gates of the world. The rookie clearly missed Santonio Holmes and Kellen Winslow. If the Jets decide to get behind Smith as their future, they need to get him some proper help.