Final

Jets 6

(9-4, 4-3 away)

Steelers 17

(12-1, 7-0 home)

4:05 PM ET, December 12, 2004

 

1 2 3 4 T
NYJ 0 0 3 36
PIT 3 0 0 1417

Bettis' passing TD, rushing score power Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The New York Jets prepared for everything the Pittsburgh Steelers could throw at them. Everything except for Jerome Bettis' rarely seen passing arm.

Bettis flipped a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jerame Tuman three plays after surpassing the 13,000-yard rushing mark early in the fourth quarter, fooling what had been an impenetrable Jets defense and sending the Steelers to team record-tying 17-6 victory Sunday.

On a day Bettis and the Jets' Curtis Martin each broke the 13,000-yard barrier, Bettis also ran for his 12th touchdown of the season late in a decisive 14-point Pittsburgh fourth quarter.

"They made the plays, and that's what good teams do, what championship teams do," Jets coach Herman Edwards said. "Their guys played better than us in the fourth quarter."

Until Bettis' surprise throw, Pittsburgh's offense didn't look Super Bowl-ready as the Steelers (12-1) were held to 19 or fewer points for the fourth consecutive game. But they overcame a spotty game by rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to win a club record-tying 11th in a row. The 1975 Super Bowl champion Steelers also won 11 straight during a 12-2 season.

"Everybody keeps waiting for us to have a letdown, but each week someone steps up and makes big plays," wide receiver Hines Ward said. "Really, Jerome won the game by himself."

Roethlisberger was only 9 of 19 for 144 yards but kept his unprecedented rookie winning streak going, too, winning his 11th in a row in the NFL and 24th straight the last two seasons, counting his final 13 games at Miami of Ohio.

The Steelers' 15th victory in 17 games against the Jets (9-4) secured the AFC North championship that has been a foregone conclusion for weeks and kept them in the lead for home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

The Jets' offense constantly broke down amid an uncharacteristic series of penalties (12 for 84 yards, all in the first half) and breakdowns. Chad Pennington was intercepted three times, only one fewer than he previously had all season.

"It's up to me to steer the ship in the right direction," said Pennington, 17-of-31 for 189 yards. "Only a few plays separate the 11-1 teams from the 6-5 teams. A lot of teams have come close to beating the Steelers, but to their credit, they do a good job of making sure it doesn't happen."

The Jets' defense had shut out three consecutive opponents in the second half and six this season until Bettis' throw, which broke a 3-all tie and kept New York from being 10-3 for the first time since 1986.

Bettis' third career touchdown pass in six attempts came on third-and-3. He rolled to his right after taking a handoff from Roethlisberger and casually tossed the ball to a wide-open Tuman, who also caught Bettis' last scoring pass in 2001. Bettis also had a TD throw in 1999.

"I got behind the safety and I couldn't see him (Bettis), I could just see the ball coming," Tuman said. "When we practiced it Friday it didn't look good, the throw was a little low, but he got it up today. We had it set up perfectly -- we could hear their defense calling out (a run)."

Bettis ran for 57 yards to push his career total to 13,037, taking over after starter Duce Staley gained 51 yards. Martin had 24 carries for 72 yards to move past Bettis into fifth place with 13,046 yards in the first game in NFL history in which two backs each surpassed 13,000 yards.

Only four others have more than 13,000: Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and Eric Dickerson.

"We got together after the game and I told him congratulations and he told me congratulations," Martin said. "You have to appreciate consistency, and that's what he's done."

The Jets were the league's second-least penalized team until breaking down in the first half, when the only scoring came on Jeff Reed's 34-yard field goal for Pittsburgh following Troy Polamalu's interception. New York threatened late in the half by driving from its 4 to the Steelers 30, but Pennington was intercepted by James Farrior.

"Everything in the world happened to us in the first half, everything went wrong and we were still right there," Pennington said. "We made too many mental mistakes and it begins with me."

Game notes


Steelers LB Clark Haggans missed most of the game with a groin injury. ... The Steelers are 4-0 against winning-record opponents (Patriots, Eagles, Jaguars, Jets). ... Roethlisberger has thrown for 150 yards or more only once in five games. ... The Jets have scored only 12 points against Pittsburgh the last two seasons, all on field goals. The Jets won 6-0 last season in a snowstorm in East Rutherford.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Scoring Summary

FOURTH QUARTERNYJPIT
pitTD3:23Jerome Bettis, 12 yd run
Drive info: 6 plays, 69 yds, 2:48
616
FIRST QUARTERNYJPIT
pitFG2:27Jeff Reed 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 6 plays, 22 yds, 2:39
03
FOURTH QUARTERNYJPIT
pit3:23
Drive info: 6 plays, 69 yds, 2:48
617
THIRD QUARTERNYJPIT
nyjFG7:39Doug Brien 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 71 yds, 3:34
33
FOURTH QUARTERNYJPIT
pitTD13:09Touchdown
Drive info: 8 plays, 80 yds, 4:21
39
pit13:09
Drive info: 8 plays, 80 yds, 4:21
310
nyjFG6:38Doug Brien 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 14 plays, 57 yds, 6:13
610