It was a win the Steelers desperately needed and one that was achieved in a manner that suggested they have a little something on the ball after all.
But it would be a mistake to perceive last Sunday’s 19-6 triumph in the swamps of Jersey as an example of the “real” Steelers finally showing up following an uncharacteristic and unanticipated 0-4 start.
“We’d like to think that but until we start stacking wins on top of each other and until we’re consistent … only time will tell,” safety Troy Polamalu acknowledged.
In reality, they all count one.
And the one against the Jets, much like the majority of the losses that preceded it, was another one of those NFL affairs decided by a handful of plays.
The results could have been different against the Bengals, Bears and Vikings had just a couple of plays worked out in the Steelers’ favor. The same might even hold for the regular-season opener against the Titans.
But the same can also be said of the Jets game.
If Ben Roethlisberger gets sacked for a safety on the Steelers’ fourth offensive snap it’s probably a different game (somehow Roethlisberger escaped).
If Balil Powell runs for a first down or a touchdown on third-and-1 from the Pittsburgh 2-yard line during the Jets’ second possession it’s probably a different game
(he got stuffed by Cam Heyward and Brett Keisel and the Jets kicked a field goal).
If Geno Smith hits wide-open Stephen Hill for what could have been a 77-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter it’s probably a different game (Smith over-threw
Hill for an incompletion).
And if Smith doesn’t throw into triple-coverage and over-throw Konrad Reuland on first-and-10 from the Pittsburgh 23 midway through the third quarter with the Jets trailing 16-6 it’s probably a different game (Ryan Clark wound up with an interception).
Sunday’s showdown with the Ravens, likewise, will probably come down to a handful of decisive plays.
That the Steelers were capable of making those against the Jets doesn’t mean they will be again.