EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- A few hours before kickoff, Jets
running back Curtis Martin went onto the field at the Meadowlands
to practice running on the snow.
Question on the Steelers: Is Maddox still the starter next year?
I don't think so. Last season he had a good run, but it's obvious why he's been second-string. He doesn't have the durability or consistency to put up big numbers year after year. It's time for the Steelers to either take a QB with its likely high draft pick or find a QB who's going to lead the team. This was supposed to be a big season for the Steelers -- they have a tremendous receiving corps and the feeling was that Maddox would do a fine job leading the offense. But it hasn't turned out that way as the defensive backfield had trouble and Maddox seemed gun-shy.
Question on the Jets: Is Martin still the lead back next year or is it time to get younger?
It's time for the Jets to get a younger back. Martin has had a tremendous year and the past few weeks he's run the ball very well. He's collecting achievements almost every week for rushing yardage or touchdowns. I'm not sure if it's either the number of carries or the age for a running back, but once a back reaches either plateau, it's time to make the change. I'm not saying he should retire, but the Jets should make the transition to a younger back who can carry the ball 25-30 times.
Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.
Whatever he did worked. Martin had 30 carries for 174 yards,
finished with 228 all-purpose yards and etched his name in the NFL
record books Sunday, helping the New York Jets beat the Pittsburgh
Steelers 6-0. It was the first time in over three years the
Steelers (5-9) were shut out, dating to a 16-0 loss to Baltimore on
Sept. 3, 2000.
"I went out there early to get used to it and try to use it to
my advantage," Martin said. "I said, 'I'm going to get a few
people today.' I was confident I wasn't going to slip."
Doug Brien kicked two field goals to provide all the scoring,
and the inconsistent defense made three defensive stands in the
fourth quarter to seal the win.
Pittsburgh had its chances, but Jeff Reed missed his field goal
attempts of 42 and 20 yards wide left. With the loss, the Steelers
were officially eliminated from playoff contention.
Martin stole the game after a winter storm dumped several inches
of snow on the Northeast. He became just the second player in NFL
history to top 1,000 yards in nine straight seasons to start a
career, joining Barry Sanders as the only players in NFL history to
accomplish the feat.
Sanders had 1,000 yards in each of his first 10 seasons.
"It is something that I feel good about," Martin said. "I'm
not big on statistics and individual goals, but this one is special
to me. I'm only the second person in the world to do this."
Martin also passed John Riggins for 11th place on the all-time
rushing list. Martin has 11,488 career yards.
His rushing counterpart, Jerome Bettis, also passed Franco
Harris for eighth place on the career rushing list, though Bettis
was limited in the fourth quarter with a right knee injury and
finished with 16 carries for 68 yards.
Bettis has 12,184 career yards.
Martin had his most productive game on the ground since rushing
for 203 yards against Indianapolis on Dec. 3, 2000.
"There were a lot of missed tackles," Steelers end Kimo von
Oelhoffen said. "We had our opportunities. The weather played a
part, but we've got to make the tackles. Our defense is designed to
stop the run. We missed too many tackles."
The last time the Jets (6-8) hosted a football game played in a
snowstorm was Dec. 12, 1982, at Shea Stadium against the Tampa Bay
Buccaneers. The Jets beat the Bucs 32-17 in front of an announced
crowd of 28,147.
The snow changed to rain in the second half, but by that time it
was too late for the Steelers to mount a comeback. It was the
lowest scoring game in the NFL this year.
"I don't know if you could have done a better job with the
weather like that," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said. "Games like
that are the games you dream about when you're a kid. It was a
classic game, a game for the purists."
Brien kicked field goals of 28 and 41 yards in the first half,
and the Jets held on after the break thanks to three defensive
Midway through the fourth quarter, Tommy Maddox tried to
engineer a rally. On third-and-goal from the Jets 6, Maddox threw
an interception to Ray Mickens in the end zone. But officials made
a questionable call on Aaron Beasley, whistling him for roughing
the passer after making helmet-to-helmet contact.
The Steelers had a new set of downs, but failed to score a
touchdown. Reed then missed the 20-yard field goal.
"There are no excuses," Reed said. "I missed two field goals
and we lost by six points. I know the guys won't put it on me, but
I take the blame myself."
Martin then marched the Jets down the field, and his 56-yard run
to the Steelers 10 looked as though it would ice the game. But on
the next play, LaMont Jordan mishandled the handoff from Chad
Pennington and fumbled.
Mike Logan recovered for the Steelers. After driving to the Jets
16, they faced fourth-and-10 but Maddox threw incomplete. The
Steelers had one final drive, but Maddox threw incomplete on
fourth-and-10 from the 45.
Maddox finished the game with eight straight incompletions and
was 16-of-38 for 137 yards.
"We needed to be tested, just to see who's going to compete
when everything's against us," Jets tackle Josh Evans said.
"Everybody could have given up, but it was nice to see everybody
^Notes:@ Before the game started, a cheer went up after part of
President George W. Bush's speech on the capture of Saddam Hussein
was broadcast through the loudspeakers at the stadium. ... Steelers
WR Hines Ward had five catches for 68 yards, going over 1,000 yards
for the third straight season. ... Mickens had a career-high four