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Old 01-22-2011, 10:56 PM   #1
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Default Bires: Steelers do talking on the field

Bires: Steelers do talking on the field
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Saturday January 22, 2011 11:48 PM

The Jets’ bravado started in training camp. It continued Saturday before boarding a plane to Pittsburgh.

“My crystal ball … I’m seeing a Super Bowl trophy in there,” coach Rex Ryan said in August.

“We’re going to win,” offensive lineman Matt Slauson told the New York Post Saturday before hopping on a bus for the ride to Newark Airport. “I believe we are a better team.”

“Stock the refrigerator full of champagne and get ready to celebrate,” added safety James Ihedigbo.

Based on what they’ve have done to reach the AFC Championship Game, there’s no denying these outspoken Jets are something special.

They have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball. They’re well-coached. And they must have the right mental makeup to walk the talk. They have backed up their braggadocio.

It’s unheard of for a coach to say the things Ryan has this year. But to this point, the Jets are right where they want to be.

But that doesn’t mean they’re going to beat the Steelers.

For the Jets to win and move on to the Super Bowl for the first time in 42 years, they’re going to have to play their best game of the season. They’re in for a real fight.

Because these Steelers are special, too.

They may go about their business quietly. But the Steelers making it to the AFC title game is just as impressive as the Jets getting there.

The Steelers have fought through all kinds of adversity — Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension, the trade of Santonio Holmes, the NFL’s hard hits crackdown that seemed to center around James Harrison, injuries to Willie Colon, Max Starks, Aaron Smith and Dan Sepulveda and the release of Jeff Reed.
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To be sure, the Steelers were lucky at times, too. Their win in Miami on Oct. 24 was significantly aided by an official’s poor call. They wouldn’t have won in overtime in Buffalo if Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson didn’t drop a game-winning TD pass.

Still, this is a very good Steelers team, especially on defense.

Five weeks ago, the Steelers lost a 22-17 thriller to the Jets at Heinz Field. But in that game, the Jets scored nine of their points while the Steelers’ defense was on the sideline. Brad Smith returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, and defensive end Jason Taylor tackled Steelers running Mewelde Moore for a safety in the fourth quarter.

And remember, the Steelers played that day without star safety Troy Polamalu who sat out with a leg injury. Also missing that day was tight end Heath Miller, who was sat out while recovering from a concussion.

Tonight, both Polamalu and Miller will play, and that bodes well for the Steelers’ chances.

It would not be surprising if the Jets win. They are good. Plus, they’ll have President Barack Obama rooting for them and they did get a thumb’s up from former Steelers’ coach Bill Cowher.

So, it promises to be a classic.

It may even go into overtime before one of these two teams uncorks the champagne.

Mike Bires can be reached online at mbires@timesonline.com
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