PITTSBURGH (AP) — Troy Polamalu watched from the sidelines in sweats. So did James Harrison. The running game couldn't get going and the Pittsburgh Steelers couldn't seem to stop the referees from reaching into their pockets for yellow flags.
And still, it didn't matter.
The Steelers don't lose home openers. And they don't lose consecutive games. And they almost never lose to the New York Jets.
So don't expect them to get too fired up over the 27-10 drubbing.
"We were coming home and we knew what we had to do," linebacker LaMarr Woodley said.
It's what the Steelers have always done under coach Mike Tomlin when they're up against it.
Faced with going 0-2 for the first time in a decade, Pittsburgh smothered the Jets in the second half while looking very much like a team ready to be in the mix for AFC supremacy yet again.
"During times of adversity you get an opportunity to display your football character," Tomlin said. "We've got a bunch of high character guys and veteran guys that know the drill and understand the urgency of moments such as these."
The Steelers (1-1) improved to 6-0 in home openers under Tomlin and still haven't lost back-to-back games since 2009, delivering on a day when two of the best defensive players in football sat out with injuries.
No matter. Ryan Mundy overcame a sloppy start to fill in quite nicely while Polamalu nursed a strained right calf and the linebackers didn't miss a beat even with Harrison sitting out a second straight game while coming back from right knee surgery.
"I think it just says that we understood the moment," safety Ryan Clark said.
Clark finished with a team-high eight tackles in his return after skipping a 31-19 loss to Denver due to a sickle cell trait that makes it dangerous for him to exert himself at high altitude. Mundy, making just the fifth start of his career, had five tackles and added a fumble recovery on a botched New York punt return in the third quarter.
"I just like to be flexible," Mundy said. "Whatever (Clark or Polamalu) feel comfortable doing and whatever position they want to play during a particular play, I just play off of them."
Pittsburgh limited the Jets to just 91 yards in the second half as the secondary manhandled New York's wide receivers and the front seven was able to consistently get in the face of quarterback Mark Sanchez. The Steelers recorded two sacks, though the biggest hit of the game may have been a violent collision between Sanchez and Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons in the second quarter. Sanchez was scrambling when Timmons drilled him just after Sanchez let go of the ball.