Running back Rashard Mendenhall and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger kept on opening the Jets defense, finding open spaces in the right, the left and straight through the middle as they opened up a 24-3 margin in the second half, that was simply too much of a deficit for the spirited Jets to close down in the second half. At the end, despite a decent game from Mark Sanchez and Co, the Steelers defense held back the Jets for a 24-19 win that will take them straight into the Super Bowl against the Green Bay Packers in two more weeks.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had the key to stop on their feet that team that was working its way into the Super Bowl by winning games against the odds. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was an utter disappointment in this game. Well, not exactly. I mean, if you look into his passer’s rating you will notice that he had an awful game. At 35.5, that is his second worst postseason game. Still, it seems that Big Ben is quite a master of winning it ugly. When he won Super Bowl XL five year ago against the Seattle Seahawks he had a 22.6 passer rating. And in 2004 when he defeated the Jets for the AFC divisional round he had a 57.8. But perhaps, he completed passes and pushed off defenders when the team needed him most because for the third time in six season the Steelers are going to the Super Bowl.
That was it for the trash-talking New York Jets. It seems that head coach Rex Ryan and quarterback Mark Sanchez and Co. had left all they had on their previous game against the New England Patriots. This time around there was no trash talking from Jets during the week and there was very little to be seen from the team that managed to leave behind Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in back to back games. For context, that’s that 10th time since 2001 that a team have played both quarterbacks in back to back games. Only the Tennessee Titans had defeated them both.
Sanchez completed 22 of 33 for 233 yards and two touchdown passes with no interceptions. With a 102.2 passer rating, he certainly outplayed Ben Roethlisberger. Still, Big Ben went 10 of 19 for 133 yards, no touchdowns and 2 interceptions, and somehow managed to guide his offensive to a win. Perhaps the key was to be found in the great performance of Mendenhall. The running back completed 92 of his 121 yards in the first half, for 27 carriages and 1 touchdown.
Rex Ryan had been bragging all the postseason about his solid defense. And that’s when the Steelers turned things around. The Steelers usually relay on their air raids to keep on moving the chains. This time around, Big Ben took a step down and let his men do most of the work over the land. His offensive linemen kept on opening spaces for the runners to break into the Jets D like it had swinging doors.
Despite the effort, and working their way back into the game in the second half, it was just too little and too late for the Jets to really had a chance to get back in the game. The early hole was too deep, even after a 4-yard TD pass to Jerricho Cotchery made it 24-19 with 3:06 remaining. The Steelers kept it smart, moving the ball with each opportunity, and the Jets never got the ball back.