How the Steelers won the AFC Championship Game

The Steelers dominated early while the Jets owned the second half of the AFC Championship game.  The Jets traded scores back and forth against the Patriots to get to the AFC Championship game.  They never gave up the lead once they got it, and ended up winning 28-21.  The Steelers reached the AFC Championship game by defeating the Ravens 31-24 after being down 21-7 at half.

Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Ben RoethlisbergerThe AFC Championship game between the Steelers and the Jets couldn’t have started any better for Pittsburgh.  They took the opening drive 66 yards, mainly on the ground, and scored a TD on the fifteenth play.  The Jets moved the ball in their first possession, but eventually had to punt.  By the end of the first quarter, Pittsburgh had the ball for 10:49 and led 7-0.

Outside linebacker Bryan Thomas intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass during the Steelers second drive, but the Jets could not capitalize on the turnover.  The Steelers continued their ground and pound in the second quarter, which resulted in a Pittsburgh Steelers Defensive Back William GayFG on their next possession.  The Jets offense sputtered again, and when the Steelers got the ball back, they drove the ball another 66 yards in seven plays for a TD.  Mark Sanchez was sacked on a blitz by cornerback Ike Taylor and fumbled the ball later in the second quarter.  William Gay recovered the ball and ran it in for another TD, and before you knew it, the Steelers led 24-0 and it looked like the route was on.  With 1:08 left in the first half, Sanchez moved the ball 44 yards to the Pittsburgh 25, which was close enough for Nick Folk to kick a 42 yard field goal and put the Jets on the scoreboard.  By halftime, the Steelers led 24-3.

Mark Sanchez and the Jets took the first possession in the second half and drove 90 yards in 2:47 to score their first TD of the game.  It New York Jets Cornerback Brodney Poolwas a promising start after such a disappointing first half.  The Steelers first possession ended in a Jets interception by Brodney Pool, but again they could not capitalize, just like on their first interception in the second quarter, and they ended up going three-and-out.  By the time the Jets got the ball again, there were only 50 seconds left in the third quarter.  Pittsburgh had eaten up 10:25 of the third quarter without even scoring.  The Steelers may be the best team in the NFL at running time off the clock, and it really showed in this game.

The Jets drove the ball down to the Steelers 2 yard line to start the fourth quarter.  With first and goal on the 2, the Jets were about to make this a game by closing the gap to 24-17.  Instead, the Steeler defense held strong and the Jets coulNew York Jets Defensive End Mike DeVitod not get into the endzone.  The Jets drove the ball 80 yards and took 8:06 off the clock and came up empty-handed.  On the first play after Pittsburgh took over on downs, Roethlisberger fumbled the ball and recovered it in the endzone.  Defensive end Mike DeVito tackled Big Ben for a safety, making the score 24-12 Pittsburgh.  The Jets received the punt after the safety and Sanchez threw for most of the 58 yards it took them to score another TD.  This time the drive took up 4:32, leaving only 3:06 left in the game.  The Jets needed a quick stop in order to get the ball back, trailing 24-19.  Roethlisberger threw for two first downs, and by then, all it took was for him to kneel down three times, as the Jets were out of timeouts, and out of time.  The Steelers had won 24-19.  

New York Jets Quarterback Mark SanchezMark Sanchez completely outplayed the more experienced Ben Roethlisberger, but the Steelers won in spite of Ben’s performance.  Roethlisberger ended up 10-19 with 133 yards and 2 interceptions.  His rating was 35.5, while Sanchez kept playing at a high level in the playoffs, and ended the game with a quarterback rating of 102.2.  The Jets also won the turnover battle, as they only lost the ball once when Sanchez fumbled.  That fumble resulted in a Steelers TD, and may have been the difference in the game.  The Jets running game ranked fourth in the league, was put to a stop by the Steelers number one ranked rushing defense, allowing only 64 yards (right at their average of 62.8 for the season) for the game.  The Jets defense, although ranked third in the league (allowing 90.9 rushing yards per game), could not stop the Steelers running game, and allowed 145 rushing yards which took a lot of time off the clock.  After taking an early lead, all the Steelers had to do was run efficiently, and that allowed them to possess the ball 9:22 longer than the Jets, and kept the Jets from making a comeback in the end.  The Jets did two things wrong in this game.  They did not score more than 21 points, and they did not have the 8 point lead near the end of the game.  With the 24-19 win, the Steelers are one victory away from their third Superbowl title in seven years.

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~ by Troy Erickson Realtor on February 3, 2011.

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