As Geno Smith goes, so go the Jets.
After what was hailed as a coming out party last week, Smith struggled in a 19-6 loss to the Steelers.
Smith threw two second-half interceptions, his first one into triple coverage, and completed 19-of-34 passes for 201 yards in a game that reminded everyone he is still a rookie.
“In that [play] you'd like to see us protect the football, be more conscious of it. But again, he's going to try and make the throw he makes there,” head coach Rex Ryan said of Smith's first interception. “In that case, obviously hindsight being 20-20, you'd like to see him throw the ball away there and not force it.”
In his postgame press conference, Smith said he was attempting to throw the ball out of bounds.
A lack of playmakers on the field might have something to do with the drop off. Tight end Kellen Winslow, who was the team leader in receptions after Week 5, is suspended for four games for violation of the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes was out for a second straight game with a hamstring injury suffered in Week 4 in a loss at the Titans.
“We're not going to make excuses for anything,” Ryan said. “Pittsburgh outplayed us and I think that was the most important thing.”
The Steelers played Cover Zero for much of the second half, stacking the box and daring Smith to beat them over the top.
He couldn't adjust and the Jets in turn couldn't beat a Steelers team that had been written off all week as all but dead.
“I think for the most part, we were able to move the ball. Coming into this game we expected [it] to be a grind-it-out kind of game,” Smith said. “Their record doesn't indicate the type of team they are. They have a great smart defense and they came out to play today. We can't talk about the guys that we don't have, all we can do is use the guys that we do have. A lot of them stepped up and I think for the most part they did, aside from a few plays here or there, we did a pretty decent job of moving the ball. We didn't get it done, overall.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.