EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- After an embarrassing opening game loss, the Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday night returned to what they know best -- intimidating defense -- and the result was s 23-17 victory over the New York Jets.
David Woodley, starting just four days after suffering a concussion, threw two touchdown passes and Gary Anderson kicked three field goals to help the Steelers continue their mastery of the Jets.
Woodley, knocked out of a loss to Kansas City on Sunday, threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to rookie Louis Lipps in the first period and sent Pittsburgh ahead for good with a 3-yard throw to another rookie, Weegie Thompson, in the third quarter.
Anderson hit field goals of 32 and 43 yards in the second period and a 27-yarder in the final quarter to help Pittsburgh defeat the Jets for the eighth time without a loss. The loss spoiled the Jets' first home game in Giants Stadium after 20 years at Shea Stadium in New york.
But it was Pittsburgh's defense that set the stage for the victory. The Steelers held Jets running star Freeman McNeil to just 30 yards on 12 carries and intercepted three passes. And it was a fumble recovery that set up the Steelers' go-ahead score in the third period.
'I'm very proud of the way we hung in despite a very physical game,' Pittsburgh Coach Chuck Noll said. 'It was blow to blow and we go a lot of guys beat up. The big plays from the younger guys -- Louie Lipps, Weegie Thompson and Woodley -- made the difference.
'We were concerned about the Jets running and our defensive line and the linebackers did a great job. We needed this win badly to stay together. It's tough mentally after so many injures but they still hung together.'
After New York took a 14-13 lead on Bobby Humphery's 97-yard return of the second half kickoff, the Steelers' Robin Cole recovered Pat Ryan's fumble at the New York 13. Three plays later, Woodley lofted a pass to the 6-foot-6 Thomspon, who outjumped Davlin Mullen to catch the touchdown pass.
New York got a break when Chuck Ramsey's short punt hit Pittsburgh lineman Terry Long downfield and was recovered by the Jets' Guy Bingham on the Steelers' 49. Ryan took the Jets deep into Pittsburgh territory, but the Steelers' defense pushed them back and New York settled for a club-record 52-yard field goal by Pat Leahy to cut the lead to 20-17.
Woodley then consumed nearly seven ninutes to set up Anderson's 27-yard field goal at 1:46 of the final period and Sam Washington clinched the victory with two interceptions in the final 6:34 of the game.