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Jets’ second-half surge continues as they stun Steelers

Steelers Jets Football
New York Jets nose tackle Steve McLendon (99) celebrates in the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

BY DENNIS WASZAK JR.

Le’Veon Bell helped deal his former team’s playoff hopes a big blow, leading the New York Jets to a 16-10 victory over the banged-up Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Bell ran for 72 yards, including 7 on a big third-down play in the fourth quarter, on 25 carries while facing the team with which he spent his first six NFL seasons. After sitting out all last season in a contract dispute, Bell signed with the Jets (6-9) in the offseason.

Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges, who was benched earlier in the game after throwing two interceptions, came back in early in the fourth quarter when Rudolph went out with a left shoulder injury.

Hodges had a chance to lead the Steelers to a comeback win, but fell short. His deep pass for James Washington on third-and-7 from the Jets 44 was knocked away by Marcus Maye in the end zone. On fourth down, Hodges’ pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster fell incomplete in front of a MetLife Stadium crowd that appeared to be at least half-filled by Steelers fans.

Former Steelers star wide receiver Hines Ward, now an offensive assistant on Adam Gase’s staff with the Jets, said he hoped to celebrate a win with a Gatorade shower — and he got one moments after New York’s final defensive stop sealed the win.

Sam Darnold went 16 of 26 for 183 yards and a touchdown to Robby Anderson. Bell also had four catches for 21 yards.

The Jets, who blew a 10-0 second-quarter advantage, retook the lead on Sam Ficken’s 37-yard field goal with 6 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. The drive was helped by rookie tight end Trevon Wesco’s 32-yard catch-and-run that put New York at the Steelers 19.

Ficken’s 42-yarder with 3:11 left made it 16-10. The drive was kept alive by Bell’s 7-yard run on third-and-5 from the Steelers 39.

The Steelers (8-7) entered the game controlling their postseason destiny and would have clinched a berth with wins in their final two games, but now need some help. Pittsburgh now needs to win next week at Baltimore to stay in the mix.

The Jets will wrap up their 2019 campaign next Sunday in Buffalo against the Bills.

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