AFC Championship Recap

Steelers Hammer Jets Early

Heinz Field and the AFC Championship Game where Rex Ryan’s charges came up short for the second year in a row. Well did they come up short or were they beaten?  They were beaten.   The Steelers dominated the game from the very outset with a near ten minute drive to set the tone at the start of the game.  Rashard Mendenhall ran in his accustomed hard nosed fashion and kept the Jets from taking advantage of their injured offensive line.  Speaking of which they fired off the ball and took command of the trenches early taking the fight to the Jets defense.  Mendenhall finished the first half with 17 carries for 95 yards.  When they needed a play, there was ole’ trusty, reliable Roethlisberger.   The Steelers kept their raucous crowd in the game with a dominant first half performance in taking a 24-0 lead.  Then holding off the surging Jets in the end 24-19 to advance to their 8th Super Bowl to face the Green Bay Packers.

Ben Roethlisberger proved why he deserves to be talked about among the best quarterbacks in the game today and creeping into the all time quarterback talk.  He began the game on fire again.  Not from the stat sheet, but when the Steelers needed a play to keep a drive alive, he found a way to extend plays and make the throw that kept the chains going.  The ad-lib option pitch back to Mendenhall is what showcases his greatness.  How alert was that?  It shows he’s aware of where everyone is on the field and this year he’s endured offseason tumult, had to play with a young receiving corp, and now has to be given credit for what he provides his team. His stats read 10 of 19 for 133 yards and 2 interceptions, but he ran for a touchdown and when it counted most he completed passes for the two first downs that allowed the Steelers to run out the clock.  Thats greatness.

When you’re talking football in January, you had better bring your defense.  The Jets brought theirs but they just didn’t have ananswer in the first half.  As mentioned before they did pick off Roethlisberger twice but were pushed off the ball for much of the first half.  Consequently the #1 against the run Steelers defense only allowed 1 rushing yard and kept the Jets from getting into any offensive rhythm.  Then with the Jets trying desperately for points before the half, Ike Taylor’s sack and forced fumble returned for a touchdown by William Gay was the signature play of the game.  Providing the insurmountable 24-3 lead they’d have to protect.  They provided the biggest play of the game when the Jets had trimmed the lead to 24-10.  The Jets, threatening to get back into the game and on their 17th play of the drive couldn’t dent the Steel Curtain on a 4th and 1 from the Steeler 2 yard line.  Tomlinson never made it back to the line of scrimmage.   

The Steelers did give up a safety on the next play but the defense won it on that goal line. The resulting time it took for the Jets to march for the touchdown to make it 24-19 came on a defense that was tired.  It cost the Jets 4:29 of possession time only leaving 3:09 on the clock when the Steelers took the field.  So with a couple key throws by Ben, the Jets were sent home from the AFC Championship game for the second year in a row. They battled valiantly in the second half but again came up short.  They didn’t come up short on their own, the Steelers held them off.  We have a couple weeks to get ready for the Super Bowl in Dallas.  Packers or these resourceful Steelers.  Who do you have?

Thanks for reading…

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