Tomorrow at 4:30 PM EST the New York Jets will take on the Pittburgh Steelers in the Divisional Playoffs round. The teams have never met in the playoffs but Pittsburgh leads the regular season series 15-2, including 6-0 at home.
The teams already met this season on 12/12/04. Pittsburgh RB Jerome Bettis ran for 1 TD & passed for another while Steelers' defense held New York to just 2 FGs, as Pittsburgh came out with a 17-6 win.
Pittsburgh head coach Bill Cowher is 5-1 against the Jets, while Herman Edwards is 1-2 against the Steelers. Pittsburgh is 23-17 all-time in the playoffs, the Jets playoff record is 8-9.
HEAD COACHES: Herman Edwards of Jets (DB, 1977-85) & Pittsburgh’s Bill Cowher (LB, 1983-84) were teammates with Philadelphia Eagles. Last time former teammates met in playoffs as head coaches: Sam Wyche (Cin.) & Jack Pardee(Hou.) in 1990 AFC Wild Card (Cin., 41-14). Both played for Redskins from 1971-72……Game features 2 of NFL’s top 5 all-time leading rushers: Jets’ Curtis Martin(4th, 13,366) & Steelers’ Jerome Bettis (5th, 13,294). Game also features AP Offensive (Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pitt.) & Defensive (Jonathan Vilma, LB, NYJ) Rookies of the Year.
JETS: Team encountered greatest strength of schedule (.543) among all clubs in 2004 Playoffs. Club advances to AFC Divisional Round for 2nd time in past 3 yrs under Edwards. Since Edwards became head coach in 2001, Jets have best turnover edge in NFL (+39). Last week, Edwards became 1st coach to lead team to road playoff win since 1982 (Walt Michaels). Cowher-led Steelers last lost 1st playoff game in 1993 AFC Wild Card at KC when NYJ’s Edwards was Chiefs’ DB coach……QB Chad Pennington threw 2 TD passes last week at SD in AFC Wild Card for club-record 6 career playoff TD passes, surpassing Richard Todd (4) & Vinny Testaverde (4). Pennington’s 47-yd TD pass last week to Santana Moss was his longest TD pass of season……NFL All-Star & 2004 league rushing champion Curtis Martin (1,697) rushed for 166 yards & 3 TDs in 1996 AFC Divisional Game vs. Steelers (w/ NE). Martin has 8 rush TDs in 9 career playoff games. Martin did not fumble in 2004 – 3rd season in career he did not fumble (1999, 2002). Martin is Pittsburgh native, attended Taylor-Allerdice HS & played at U. of Pittsburgh. Last wk vs. Chargers (No. 3 in NFL vs. run), RB LaMont Jordan rushed 7 times for 50 yds (7.1 avg.) w/ long of 19. Jets rushed for 2nd-most yards in club history in 2004 w/ 2,388 (2,646, 1979)……WR Justin McCareins caught career-high 8 passes last week. In 2002 AFC Divisional vs. Pitt, McCareins (w/ Titans) caught passes on consecutive plays in OT to set-up game-winning FG. WR Moss had 4 catches of 16+ yds last week w/ 1 TD……Defense finished 2004 4th in NFL points allowed (16.3) as Pittsburgh was 1st (15.7). S Erik Coleman became 1st NYJ rookie to record 4 INTs since Erik McMillan (4, 1988). DE Shaun Ellis recorded 1.5 sacks in Wk. 14 at Pitt. CB Donnie Abraham and S Reggie Tongue both recorded INT in Wk 14.
STEELERS: Team has won franchise-record 14 games in row. Steelers are 15-2 all-time vs. Jets & 6-0 vs. NYJ in Pittsburgh. Club is 11-6 (.647) in Divisional games since 1970. Under Cowher, team is 7-4 in playoffs at home & has won at least 1 playoff game in 6 consecutive postseasons……Rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger (No. 11) is 1st QB in history to win 1st 13 NFL starts & is 4th Steelers player to earn AP Offensive Rookie of Year, 1st since WR Louis Lipps (1984). His passer rating (98.1) is seasonal best in club history & is best by rookie in NFL history, surpassing Dan Marino (96.0, 1983). Led NFL in 4th qtr passer rating (118.5), 4th qtr comp. pct .(76.9) & 4th qtr yds/att. (9.17)……Bettis led team in rushing for 8th time in 9 seasons in 2004. Had career-high 13 rush TDs, 1 shy of tying club record (Franco Harris, 14, 1976). RB Duce Staley averaged 4.3 yds per carry in 2004 on 192 rushes……Pro Bowl WR Hines Ward is 1st Steelers WR named to 4 Pro Bowls. Has reached 1,000 receiving yds in past 4 yrs to be 1st Steeler to reach 1,000 4 yrs in row. Has catch in club-record 104 consecutive regular season games. WR Plaxico Burress finished w/ 2nd-highest receiving avg. in NFL among players w/ 30+ catches (19.9)……All-Star LB James Farrior was Jets’ 1997 1st Rd. draft pick. Led team w/ 118 tackles & had 5 FFs & 3 FRs. Farrior’s 4 INTs tied NFL-best for LB in 2004. DE Aaron Smith led team w/ 8.0 sacks in 3-4 base defense. All-Star S Troy Polamalu led team w/ 5 INTs & finished 3rd on team w/ 96 tackles. CB Willie Williams one player from ‘95 Steelers, who won AFC Championship.