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mesaSteeler
01-23-2011, 10:53 PM
Steelers headed to Super Bowl XLV
Sunday, January 23, 2011
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Lake Fong/Post-Gazette
A Steelers fan shows his support with a message for the New York Jets.

The Steelers dominated the first half and nearly fell apart in the second before prevailing 24-19 against the New York Jets to win the AFC championship game and an eighth Super Bowl appearance.

A 24-3 halftime lead nearly evaporated with the Jets scoring three straight times to close within five points with 3:06 left. However, the Steelers' offense then ran out the clock after Ben Roethlisberger completed a third-down pass to Antonio Brown with 1:48 left.

Things had gotten a little antsy for the Steelers until then.

Mark Sanchez threw touchdown passes to Santonio Holmes and Jerricho Cotchery around a two-point safety when Roethlisberger fumbled a snap in his own end zone. The Steelers did not score in the second half.

The victory matches the Steelers against the Green Bay Packers in the Feb. 6 Super Bowl XLV in the Dallas suburb of Arlington, Tex.

A hush fell over the record crowd at Heinz Field of 66,662 when the Jets took the opening kickoff of the second half and moved 90 yards in five plays to score on a 45-yard touchdown pass from Sanchez to Holmes.

Holmes flashed wide open, beating cornerback Ike Taylor from the get-go.

That cut the Steelers' lead to 14 points with plenty of time left.

The Jets had a chance to cut it to 7 midway through the fourth quarter, but the Steelers' defense had a great goalline stand, holding the Jets out of the end zone after a first down at the two. New York's drive had consumed 17 plays, 80 yards and 8:06 with nothing to show for it.

However, the Jets got something out of it when on the next play from the one, Roethlisberger fumbled the snap from center and was downed in his own end zone for a two-point safety.

That cut their lead to 24-12 with 7:38 left.

The Steelers were not without an early opportunity in the second half. Their offense moved into Jets territory with a first down at the 36. However, a fumbled snap between new center Doug Legursky, who replaced Maurkice Pouncey when the rookie left in the first half with a left ankle injury, lost one yard. And then Roethlisberger threw deep to a wide open Emmanuel Sanders inside the 10, but his pass floated inside, where safety Brodney Pool had an easy interception.

The Steelers' offense bogged down on its next try when Roethlisberger was sacked twice in three plays after they had reached a first down at New York's 42.

The Steelers, playing their most dominant half of football this season, ran out to a 24-3 lead after two quarters.

After taking a 7-0 lead on their first drive on Rashard Mendenhall's 1-yard touchdown, the Steelers exploded for 17 points in the second quarter as all of their offensive series reached deep into Jets territory.

Shaun Suisham kicked a 20-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead, Ben Roethlisberger ran 2 yards to put the Steelers ahead 17-0 and then William Gay ran 19 yards for a touchdown after Taylor sacked Sanchez and forced a fumble.

Nick Folk kicked a 42-yard field goal with nine seconds left for New York's only score.

The Steelers' first opportunity in the second quarter ended when, on fourth and one at the Jets' 32, Mendenhall slipped when Roethlisberger threw quick and short over the middle to him and the pass was intercepted.

Another quick pass over the middle also failed on their next drive, this time from the two yardline, batted down by the Jets. The Steelers had to settle for Suisham's 20-yard field goal and a 10-0 lead with 6;51 left in the first half. Mendenhall ran 35 yards to help get them into scoring position.

But the Steelers took full advantage of their next drive to take a 17-0 lead on Roethlisberger's 2-yard touchdown run on a roll to the right. That capped a seven-play, 66-yard drive in just under four minutes.

Roethlisberger completed three big passes on that drive -- a 24-yarder to Heath Miller, one of 20 yards to Sanders and then a short one to Mendenhall that he ran 14 yards to the two.

That made it 17-0 and in short order it was 24-0. On third and 17, the Steelers blitzed and Taylor hit Sanchez as he was about to uncork a pass. The ball popped loose, Gay picked it up and ran 19 yards to the end zone.

Sanchez had not been sacked in 61 pass plays until LaMarr Woodley and Taylor sacked him two out of three plays on that series.

For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette On the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11023/1120196-100.stm#ixzz1BvR8cn2i

SeinfeldNut
01-23-2011, 11:14 PM
What a roller coaster game it was, glad to be posting here and discussing the win!