Defensive end Ziggy Hood and outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, both of whom were instrumental in breaking up second- and third-down pass plays, said Tuesday that Jets right tackle Wayne Hunter tipped the plays by the way he lined up in his stance.
The Jets were stopped four times inside the 3 at the start of the fourth quarter, a pivotal sequence in their 24-19 loss at Heinz Field. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has been heavily second-guessed for his play calling, particularly the quick slant on third down that was defended by Woodley.
Woodley said he noticed Hunter in a two-point stance, which told him it was going to be a pass.
"It was a third down, and most teams are going to run there," Woodley said during Super Bowl XLV media day at Cowboys Stadium. "The offensive linemen usually get in a three-point stance, ready to charge at you. I read the line. I saw [Hunter] was standing back in a pass set, so I decided I wasn't going to rush upfield because I knew they were going to try something quick in that situation.
"[Mark Sanchez] threw the ball and hit me right in the chest," Woodley continued. "I should've caught it and ran it back 99 yards."
Asked specifically if Hunter tipped the play, Woodley said, "Yeah, he was standing up, like it was a pass set."
On the previous play, Hood and Woodley were in Sanchez's face almost immediately on a play-action rollout. Their pressure affected Sanchez's throw, which was low and outside to Dustin Keller -- an incompletion in the end zone.
"I knew they were going to try something funny, maybe a rollout or a sprint pass," Hood said. "I came off the ball and was in the backfield and forced him to make a bad decision."
Hood said he "could tell by the stance of the lineman" that it was going to be a pass, although he refused to divulge the specific tip-off. He said "there was something I didn't like. [Hunter] backed up a little bit and I just knew it would be a pass."
The Jets' touchdown bid ended on fourth down, when LaDainian Tomlinson was stuffed on an up-the-middle running play from the 1. They trailed by 14 points at the time.
Asked if he was puzzled by the Jets' play calling, Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel smiled and said, "I'm glad he did it."
Schottenheimer hasn't been made available by the Jets to comment on the game.
For the most part, the Steelers gave the Jets credit for battling back after trailing 24-0. The two teams share a mutual respect, although safety Ryan Clark took issue with the Jets' claim that the poor start was due to being emotionally flat.
"People try to attribute different things to it, but we just outplayed them," Clark said. "We played better football than they did. I'm not going to come out and say, 'Oh, we were better than them because they weren't ready and they weren't fired up.' On that day, on that night in the first half, we were a better football team than they were."
Cornerback Ike Taylor said the Steelers smelled Super Bowl.
"Being in that position, only one game away, the NFL says it best: Win or go home," he said. "We felt like we didn't want to go home. Now we're here, and the Jets are home."