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Old 01-17-2011, 01:25 AM   #1
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Default Bires: Jets set for Heinz Field return

Bires: Jets set for Heinz Field return
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Monday January 17, 2011 12:12 AM

New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis celebrates his team's 28-21 win over the New England Patriots in an NFL divisional playoff football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Rex Ryan boldly told his team that “we’re coming back here,” after his New York Jets walked off Heinz Field victorious a little less than a month ago.

Sure enough, his prediction has come true.

Ryan’s confident — some would say ****y — wild-card Jets will resume their impressive Super Bowl run Sunday at Heinz Field when they take on the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game.

After their divisional-round playoff win over Baltimore on Saturday, the Steelers said they had no preference as to who their next opponent would be. Regardless of who won the much-publicized Jets-Patriots grudge match, the Steelers would get a chance to avenge one of their four regular-season losses.

Well, it turns out the Steelers are getting the Jets and they’ll have no problem with that.

To be sure, the red-hot Jets will be difficult to beat. They’ve now beaten two the NFL’s best quarterbacks in back-to-back weeks. That said, hosting the Jets is a far better option for the Steelers than hitting the road for an AFC Championship game against the Patriots in Foxboro.

“It doesn’t matter,” linebacker LaMarr Woodley said after Saturday’s win over the Ravens. “All I know is that we’ll be playing in a week. That’s the most important thing. It would be nice to host it, but as long as we are in there, that’s all that counts.”

Last week, the Jets upset Peyton Manning and the Colts in Indianapolis, 17-16. On Sunday, they upset Tom Brady and the top-seeded Patriots at Gillette Stadium, 28-21.

Now the Jets get Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers.
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It should make for a great game with storylines galore.

l On Dec. 19, the Jets won for the first time ever in Pittsburgh with a mild 22-17 upset.

l The quarterback match-up pits second-year pro Mark Sanchez vs. Roethlisberger. Much like Roethlisberger did in his first few seasons with the Steelers, Sanchez is still developing. But like Roethlisberger did, Sanchez is playing winning football. He has a 4-1 postseason record and is back in the AFC Championship for the second straight year. Roethlisberger, a seventh-year pro, is playing in his fourth conference championship and has a 9-2 playoff record that includes a 2-0 Super Bowl record.

l Santonio Holmes returns to his old stomping grounds for the second time in a month. This time, he’ll still be buzzing over the sensational TD catch he made Sunday in New England. It was a catch reminiscent of the one he made to win Super Bowl XLIII for the Steelers.

l Also coming home for the second time this season is Darrelle Revis, the Jets’ star cornerback from Aliquippa.

l The Jets/Steelers match-up also features two of the NFL’s stingiest defenses. The Jets ranked No. 3 in the regular season; the Steelers were second. Needless to say, points will be at a premium. This time, however, the Steelers will have strong safety Troy Polamalu, who sat out the Dec. 19 game against the Jets with a leg injury.

Indeed, Jets vs. Steelers II shapes up to a blockbuster.

Mike Bires can be reached at mbires@timesonline.com
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