“When that final kick went through,” quarterback Kellen Clemens said with a smile, “that was one of the best feelings we’ve had in a while.”
With thousands of Pittsburgh fans at Giants Stadium waving their yellow Steelers towels, Nugent kicked a 38-yard field goal 5:03 into overtime to give the Jets an unlikely 19-16 victory Sunday.
The kick broke a six-game losing streak for the Jets (2-8), who celebrated their first win since Week 3 against Miami in a huge circle around Nugent.
“I was hoping it was straight,” Nugent said. “That’s what you’re looking for. I could’ve hit it a lot better.”
It was plenty good enough.
In front of a crowd that sometimes looked as if it was a home game for the Steelers (7-3), with fans decked out in black and gold waving their Terrible Towels, the Jets hung tough.
Thomas Jones was a huge reason, running for 117 yards on 30 carries and becoming the first running back in 35 games to reach 100 yards against the top-ranked Steelers defense.
“Quite simply, we missed tackles,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. “We missed more tackles than I’ve ever seen us miss. That’s the story.”
Actually, that was only part of it. The Jets defense had its best game—by far—by sacking Ben Roethlisberger seven times and holding Willie Parker to 52 yards on 21 carries. New York came in ranked 30th overall on defense, and last against the run.
“We did a great job in the bye,” said defensive end Shaun Ellis, who had two sacks. “We just broke everything down and came out and executed today. We came out, made up our minds and said, ‘Enough is enough.’ We just wanted to play a full game.”
After the Jets went three-and-out to open overtime, the Steelers did the same. Leon Washington took the punt 33 yards to the Pittsburgh 26 to put New York in scoring position immediately.
Jones ran three times for 6 yards and then Nugent booted his fourth field goal of the game.
Nugent came up big just minutes earlier when he tied it at 16 on a 28-yard field goal with 23 seconds remaining in regulation.
Clemens, who had a 15-yard scramble on the drive, hit Chris Baker down the middle for 14 yards to bring the ball to the 5. After Clemens spiked it, he missed a diving Brad Smith in the back of the end zone. The Jets were then called for delay of game to put the ball at the 10. Clemens went after Smith again, but overthrew him in the end zone to set up Nugent’s kick.
Clemens finished 14-of-31 for 162 yards and one touchdown with an interception to win for the first time in three NFL starts.
Roethlisberger was 15-of-25 for 195 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
“We’ve got to come out and play Steelers football,” Roethlisberger said. “I don’t feel we did that today. They were probably the more physical team. I think it showed.”
Pittsburgh came in leading the league in overall defense, rushing defense, passing defense and scoring. The Steelers also hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher since Edgerrin James’ 124-yard effort for Indianapolis in Week 12 of the 2005 season.
“I don’t want to take anything away from the New York Jets, but in all three phases, we fell below the line of what is acceptable,” Tomlin said. “We didn’t tackle well and we didn’t protect our quarterback.”
Jeff Reed’s 48-yard field goal, his third of the game, gave the Steelers their first lead at 16-13 with 8:41 remaining. It was the ninth straight field goal Reed has made in the fourth quarter.
The Jets took a 7-0 lead on Chris Baker’s 1-yard catch 2:11 into the game. After Jones opened with an 11-yard run, he helped perfectly execute a flea-flicker when he took the handoff, pitched back to Clemens and the Jets quarterback found Laveranues Coles wide open down the middle of the field.
Coles, who missed the Jets’ last game with a concussion, was taken down by Anthony Smith at the 1 for a 56-yard gain. After Jones ran for no gain, Clemens pulled off a play-action fake and found Baker in the back of the end zone.
Santonio Holmes’ 7-yard touchdown catch-and-run for Pittsburgh made it 10-7 with 9:04 left in the first half.
The last time New York had seven sacks was against Buffalo in 2003. … The Jets honored former running back Curtis Martin during a halftime ceremony. Martin, the fourth-leading rusher in NFL history, retired in July after not being able to recover from a knee injury in 2005. … Holmes left in the second half with a sprained right ankle and didn’t return.