By: Zach Metkler, GZ Sports Report Writer
The Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets faced off for a Week 5 matchup at Heinz Field. After a close game through the first half, the Steelers were able to pull away in the 4th quarter to win the game 31-13 and improve to 4-1 on the season.
That loss to the Eagles feels like it was so long ago.
After every game, there are players who deserve praise, and others not so much. With another solid performance under their belts, who are the winners and losers for the Steelers this week?
Ben Roethlisberger: Another day, another Hall of Fame performance for Big Ben. Roethlisberger finished 34/47 for 380 yards, 4 touchdowns, and a passer rating of 124.4. The only real negative play from Roethlisberger came on a fumble in the redzone, which was simply a great play by the Jets’ defense. Over the past two weeks, he has totaled 56/74 (75.7% completion percentage), 0 interceptions, 680 yards passing, and 9 touchdowns. Roethlisberger is putting together an MVP-caliber season right before our eyes.
Sammie Coates: While he is far from a perfect receiver (more on that later), Coates is beginning to shine in the absence of Martavis Bryant. Against the Jets, Coates had 6 receptions for 139 yards (23.2 average) and 2 touchdowns, putting together his best statistical performance of his 2-year career. Coates was also targeted 11 times, showing that Roethlisberger is beginning to trust the speedster as their chemistry grows. If he can minimize the mistakes, the Steelers will have finally found their #2 receiver opposite of Antonio Brown.
Le’Veon Bell: Bell is the best running back in the NFL. Period. What he brings to the Steelers offense is incredible. The Jets boast one of the best front seven’s in the league and effectively shut down the Steelers run game for most of the afternoon, as Bell finished with 66 yards on 20 carries (3.3 average) with his longest rush being only 10 yards. This would mark a below average day for most NFL backs. But what makes Bell the best running back in the NFL is his ability to create opportunities in the passing game. Bell was targeted 11 times and totaled 9 receptions (a career high) for 88 yards, giving him 154 yards from scrimmage.
The Juice is definitely loose.
Chris Hubbard: Really, the entire offensive line could be “winners” from this game for allowing only one sack on Roethlisberger against a tremendous front seven. But it was Hubbard that stood out the most to me. Since 2014, Hubbard has been the Steelers reserve swing offensive lineman across the entire line. Against the Jets, Hubbard held his own at right tackle in his first career start, not letting the stage get too big for him. As a third-string tackle, Hubbard got through the game without being noticed very much at all. And for an offensive lineman, that speaks volumes.
Oh, he also got the Steelers top grade (84.2) according to Pro Football Focus. No big deal.
Vince Williams: In his second week as the starter in replace of Ryan Shazier, Williams put together another stellar performance on defense, totaling 9 tackles (8 solo), 3 tackles for a loss, 2 quarterback hits, and 1 sack. Williams now has 25 tackles, 5 tackles for a loss, and 2 sacks over the past two weeks. To say he is living up to his contract extension would be an understatement.
Jarvis Jones: Contrary to popular belief, Jones has put together a decent season so far and his performance against the Jets was no different. While Jones has not been the double-digit sack player they wished for in 2013, he has been great in all of the aspects of his game. He is great against the run and gets solid pressure against the quarterback (2 quarterback hits), but more importantly, his awareness and recognition is miles from where it used to be earlier in his career. Whether or not the Steelers re-sign him after the season has yet to be seen, but he is making a case for himself that he belongs in the NFL.
Sammie Coates: Yes, Coates had a great game. Yes, Coates is developing into a superb deep threat and all-around receiver. Yes, I know Coates is a 2nd-year receiver who is playing in his first full season as an active part of the offense. But at some point, being a young receiver can’t be an excuse. Coates’ could have had an even bigger stat line than 6 receptions for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns. The play that stands out the most was when Coates dropped a nearly wide-open pass in the endzone that left most fans scratching their heads (luckily, the Steelers scored on a Jesse James touchdown on the same drive). Coates dropped a couple of other passes during the game as well, but is showing promise by finding ways to adjust during routes.
The likely cause for the drops is probably due to Coates reportedly having to get stitches in his hand at halftime. It isn’t easy for a receiver to catch hard passes like the ones that Roethlisberger throws but not all of them were hard passes. Coates wasn’t a complete “loser” in this game for the reasons I mentioned earlier and I am probably nitpicking. But had the result of the game been different for the Steelers, we would likely be looking at Coates as a reason for it.
Again, I am probably just nitpicking on an otherwise fantastic performance by the Steelers.
Jordan Berry as a Running Back: If you watched the entire game, I probably don’t need to explain this very much. The play was a fake field goal attempt by Jordan Berry, who took of sprinting around the outside and picked up as many yards as Ladarius Green has gained this season.