PITTSBURGH (AP) -The New York Jets are 1-8 with six losses in a row and have beaten only winless Miami. The Jets have been outscored by 69 points and are giving up more yards rushing than any team in the league.
No wonder the Pittsburgh Steelers are nervous.
The Steelers (7-2), owners of a two-game lead in the AFC North after winning three in a row, faced a similar road matchup a month ago in Denver. The Broncos had lost three in a row, were coming off a 41-3 home-field loss to San Diego and their rushing defense was among the NFL's worst.
So, naturally, the Steelers lost 31-28.
Don't think that defeat - and their narrow 31-28 comeback win Sunday over Cleveland - wasn't on the mind of a few players Wednesday as the Steelers began practicing for Sunday's game in the Meadowlands.
Ben Roethlisberger, who is friends with some Pittsburgh-area policemen, wore an NYPD hat, and it wasn't by coincidence.
Roethlisberger's charity gives money to a police department in the city of every Steelers road opponent. He also was sending a message that just because the Steelers are playing the Jets and Dolphins (0-9) in the next two weeks doesn't mean they have the equivalent of two byes.
``We're not going to (overlook teams) regardless of if we feel like we're a good team or not,'' Roethlisberger said. ``That's not the type of football team we are. We stay focused on the task at hand, and that's this week with the Jets.''
The Steelers were reminded by Denver and again by Cleveland that a team's place in the standings and its overall record guarantees little in a league in which every teams but the Patriots, Packers and Cowboys have lost at least twice. The Steelers won in Cleveland 34-7 to start the season, only to fall behind the Browns 21-6 in Pittsburgh before rallying to win.
Despite the Jets' inability to stop the run - they're allowing an average of 152 yards per game - they've held three opponents to 16 points or fewer. Only one team, the Bengals, has scored more than 23 points on them in the last month.
``I think the Jets are better than Cleveland on defense,'' said Steelers right tackle Willie Colon, who played at Hofstra. ``From the outside looking in, people might say, 'Oh, the Steelers are going to kill them because of their running attack and the (Jets') lack of defense, but people play their best when it comes to us. They show up, they don't want to get embarrassed. They don't want anybody walking into their hometown and doing whatever.''
Willie Parker, the NFL's No. 2 rusher with 873 yards, is aware of the numbers opposing backs are gaining against the Jets: 196 by Washington's Clinton Portis, 130 by the Bengals' Kenny Watson, 120 by Philadelphia's Brian Westbrook.
He also remembers how everyone was saying how easy the Steelers' running game would have it against Denver, too. Porter gained 93 yards, but the Steelers still lost.
``Denver, they were last against the run and you saw how they came out and played us,'' Parker said. ``Going into this game, they (the Jets) are last in the league. We've just got to go in and take it to them. Don't let up, and keep the foot on the gas and keep going.''
The Jets also rank in the bottom third in pass defense, but again, Roethlisberger pays little attention to that.
``We just look at the strengths and weaknesses,'' rather than won-lost records, he said. ``On paper and on the field, they're a totally different team.''
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