A hardcore look at Jets vs. Steelers

ESPN Stats and Information has produced some fascinating statistical comparisons between the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers. Enjoy ...

RUN STOPPERS: The Jets and Steelers’ defenses are built around stopping the run, with much of the work being done in their base 3-4 defense. These teams were the only two to allow fewer than 40 yards per game (Jets 38.4, Steelers 36.8) against their base defense during the regular season.

UP THE MIDDLE: The Jets were second in the league in rushing first downs up the middle, but are about to run into the best interior rush defense in the NFL. The Steelers were the only team in football to allow less than three yards per rush up the middle (2.9) in the regular season. When the teams met in Week 15, the Jets were able to establish a running game (3.9 yards per rush), which allowed Mark Sanchez to use play-action passing effectively (6-7, 84 yards, 116.7 passer rating).

THE POLAMALU FACTOR: Sanchez was 9-for-9 passing inside the painted numbers in Week 15 against the Steelers, who played without injured S Troy Polamalu. It was the only time in the past three seasons the Steelers have allowed a perfect completion percentage inside the numbers in a single game.

REVIS ISLAND AND AL-CRO-TRAZ: The Jets allowed a league-low 42.7 completion percentage outside the painted numbers this season and in Week 15, held Ben Roethlisberger to his season-low percentage outside the numbers (40.0 pct). Roethlisberger was able to find space over the middle of the field against the Jets, averaging nearly three more yards per attempt.

LONG STORY: Sanchez has struggled on throws of 15 yards or more all season long, but has regressed even more this postseason. Sanchez completed 41.7 percent of his attempts at least 15 yards downfield in the regular and averaged a first down once every 2.4 attempts. In the postseason, Sanchez is just 3-of-14 on such attempts (21.4 pct) and is averaging a first down once every 4.7 attempts.

COMFORT OF HOLMES: Before Santonio Holmes’ return from suspension, Sanchez threw two touchdowns and no interceptions in sets with three wide receivers. When Holmes returned, Sanchez struggled in those formations, throwing three more interceptions than touchdowns. In the playoffs, though, Sanchez has returned to his pre-Holmes success when the Jets use three or more wide receivers. His passer rating is 106.9 in the playoffs, up from 65.5 in the regular season.