The Jets won’t be playing past December, but they delivered a blow for a January hopeful on Sunday afternoon.
New York stifled the playoff-hopeful Pittsburgh Steelers, 16-10, as the visitors were forced to make a pair of quarterback changes — with little effectiveness.
Delvin Hodges was benched for Mason Rudolph after a difficult start, only for the initial starter to return following an injury to Pittsburgh’s backup.
The Steelers could only muster 260 total yards on the afternoon as the Jets defense covered for an offense that couldn’t do much, either.
In fact, they had an identical 260 yards of total offense before their victory formation in the final seconds of the game. Darnold completed 16-of-26 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown while Le’Veon Bell mustered 72 yards on 25 carries.
Darnold’s lone touchdown of the game came on the Jets’ opening drive — a common theme this season — when he hit Robby Anderson for a 23-yard score.
It was a comfortable early cushion as the Jets defense was taking full advantage of facing Hodges.
While the rookie passer completed 7-of-9 passes during the first 20:40 of play on Sunday, his two incompletions were interceptions. It was his fifth and sixth turnovers in his last six quarters of play.
With the Steelers’ offense going nowhere, head coach Mike Tomlin was forced to turn back to Mason Rudolph with 9:20 left in the first half, who was benched for Hodges in Week 12.
It was a 10-0 game by the time of the move as Sam Ficken’s field goal 40 seconds into the second.
Rudolph’s return sparked the Steelers’ comeback as they poached 10 points in the final 1:22 of the half.
After Chris Boswell’s 49-yard field goal, a Darnold fumble gave Pittsburgh possession in Jets territory. In three plays, the Steelers were in the end zone as Rudolph hit Diontae Johnson for a 29-yard score.
Both offenses would dry up yet again with Ficken’s second field goal of the day proving to be the only points put up in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter would see the Steelers go back to Hodges under center after Rudolph suffered a shoulder injury. A third Ficken field goal would put the Jets up six with 3:11 in the fourth, which was more than enough as the Steelers came up empty on their final two drives of the afternoon.