The last time the two teams played, the stat line for the Steelers wide receivers looked like this:
Mike Wallace 7 catches for 102 yards
Emmanuel Sanders 7 catches for 78 yards
Hines Ward 2 catches for 34 yards
Antonio Brown 2 catches for 15 yards
Antwaan Randle El 1 catch for 8 yards
That’s 19 catches for 237 yards. The club held its own against the Jets CB duo of Revis and Antonio Cromartie, but that doesn’t mean they are counting on having a big day Sunday in the AFC Title Game at Heinz Field.
“They are great athletes, they are just like wide receivers,” Ward said. “You may beat them once, but the quarterback might not even be looking to that side. You can’t get frustrated, when the quarterback looks your way, you just have to make sure to be there and make a play for the quarterback. We’re gonna fight hard, and go out there and compete.”
Two players that could have a big impact on the game for the Steelers is Sanders and Brown. Last week Brown made the play of the game, a pretty 58-yard grab on 3rd-and-19 from the Steelers 38 with just over two minutes to play in a 24-24 game vs the Ravens.
The Steelers of course went on to score and pull out a 31-24 win for the right to move on in the postseason. Now come the Jets, a team (no pun intended) flying high after topping the Pats 28-21 in New England Sunday night.
In that game, Pats WR’s caught 13 passes for 128 yards. Wes Welker was the teams leading WR, catching 7 passes for 57 yards. Overall, the Pats offense was out of sync by a Ryan defense that thrived on the play of its secondary.
“Rex isn’t gonna show the same scheme week to week,” Ward said. “He’s gonna have a new wrinkle in there that makes you think about things and maybe something that we didn’t prepare during the week. For us, we have to pay attention to detail, it’s really about what we do, not about what they do.”
The player on the Jets that gets all the attention is Revis. He’s been somewhat slowed by a hamstring injury suffered early in the season, but as Ward put it, Revis is simply the best in the game at what he does.
“He’s a great cornerback, no question,” Ward said. “Can he be beat…yeah, he can be beat. He’s one of those guys you really don’t want to mess around with, if you make a mistake, he’s a game changer. I think a lot of quarterbacks tend to stay away from him, as a wide receiver you can get frustrated because your not even getting looked at.”
Ryan is playing secret as to what he’s going to do with Revis on Sunday. The Steelers have depth with not only Ward and Wallace, but also the emergence of Sanders and Brown gives the Steelers a chance to find some holes in what has been a very stingy Jets defense.
“Well, we’ll be multiple with what we do with Darrelle, but there’s only one of him,” Ryan said. “If we had more, that would be great. I’d sign up for that. But he’s the best in the business. Regardless of who we put him on, that’s probably not a good thing for that person.
“So the Steelers have a great receiving corps with Hines Ward and with [Mike] Wallace. That kid’s about as good a vertical receiver as there is in the game right now. So who do you put him on? I’ll say this, we’re not going to line him up on [Chris] Kemoeatu. We’ll make sure of that.”
It will be a true test for the Steelers to find a way to make plays. The wide outs will be needed to make plays when the ball is thrown their way. Depth is on the Steelers side, they will need it to move on and make it to Dallas for Super Bowl XLV.