Beachum starts on O-line after Levi Brown hurt
The Steelers' oft-maligned offensive line absorbed another blow moments before kickoff when newly acquired tackle Levi Brown was scratched from the game.
Brown, who was expected to share duty at left tackle with second-year man Kelvin Beachum, suffered a triceps injury during pregame warmups. The short-handed offensive line gave up three sacks and paved the way for only 73 yards rushing.
“It was good enough for the win, but I have some things to fix,” Beachum said. “But I thought we did a great job of finishing.
“We wanted to be the nastiest offensive line we could be. When Levi got hurt, we realized we had to roll up our sleeves.”
On the Steelers' third possession, Beachum committed a holding penalty to create third-and-19 but delivered a block that sprung receiver Antonio Brown for a 16-yard gain and a first down.
Then Beachum whiffed on a block that allowed linebacker Garrett McIntyre to sack quarterback BenRoethlisberger. Beachum was flagged for two holding penalties and a false start.
“It was Beachum's first time being out there, so he had some nerves and jitters,” Roethlisberger said. “All I have to tell him is, ‘Listen, settle down and we'll be fine.' ”
Beachum is expected to start again when the Steelers play Baltimore on Sunday at Heinz Field.
Also on the injury front, tight end David Johnson suffered what coach Mike Tomlin described as a “major potential injury” of the hand or wrist area. Defensive end Brett Keisel sustained a rib injury that could limit him at practice.
Early escape for Big Ben
The Steelers spent their first two drives in the shadow of their goal post and were fortunate the Jets' offense couldn't take advantage of good field position.
Defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson appeared to have Roethlisberger wrapped up for a safety, but Roethlisberger escaped.
“He was being mobile in the pocket, shedding defenders like he always does,” receiver Brown said. “He was being Ben.”
Not just a passing fancy
Brown was a big part of the Steelers' offense. He caught 9 of 11 passes thrown his way, and he completed a 15-yard lateral pass to running back Felix Jones to set up a Shaun Suisham field goal for a 6-3 lead in the second quarter.
He tried to throw another pass early in the fourth, but the Jets weren't fooled, and the Steelers settled for a field goal to take a 19-6 lead.
More importantly, Brown was clutch on third down. But a dropped ball on a back-shoulder throw from Roethlisberger in the end zone tormented him afterward.
“I still have to find a way to elevate my game,” Brown said. “I have to find a way to come down with the ball.”
Jets close down Bell
Rookie running back Le'Veon Bell carried 16 times and had three receptions. Still, he's having a tough time shaking defenders as he rushed for only 34 yards (2.1 yards per carry).
Bell had only 9 yards rushing on eight carries in first half. He had more yards on his first two carries of the second half, gaining 9 yards to jumpstart a third-quarter scoring drive.
Sanders, Roethlisberger click
Emmanuel Sanders has talked all season about narrowly missing the big play. Finally, he and Roethlisberger connected early in the second half on 55-yard touchdown pass.
“I had one catch in the first half, and I wasn't too happy about that,” said Sanders, who finished with three catches for 63 yards. “But to start the second half off with a 55-yard bomb and get my first touchdown, it feels good. We have a rough schedule ahead of us to get to our record back even, and that's all I'm worrying about right now.
“It was a great play call by (offensive coordinator Todd) Haley. They thought we were going to run the ball, and he dialed up a play-action pass.”
Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RalphPaulk_Trib.
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