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Old 01-24-2011, 06:44 AM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Steelers 24, Jets 19: Ten things we learned

Steelers 24, Jets 19: Ten things we learned
Cold, Hard Football Facts for January 24, 2011
http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com...e_learned.html

By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts best option on 4th and 1

Thoughts after a tale-of-two-halves type of game in Pittsburgh that held true to both teamís general MO. Steelers like to take leads and sit on them. The Jets have built a reputation as comeback kids.
In the end, Pittsburghís 24-0 lead was too big, and the Jets will have to settle for their second straight AFC title game defeat despite getting the final score to 24-19.
It was a classy football game, and both teams enhanced their reputations as solid franchises that have legitimate Super Bowl dreams every year.

The 10 things we learned ...
1. Big Ben has officially replaced Tom Brady as the playoff winner of this QB generation. Was Roethlisberger great? Nope. He was better than his shoddy stat line (10-of-19 for 133 yards and two picks), but he had his struggles.

What he did, though, for the 10th time in 12 playoff games, was win the game Ė and win with more than just a defense. The Steelers have never scored fewer than 20 points in a Roethlisberger playoff start, which is a pretty remarkable number. Patriots and Colts fans certainly wish they could say the same in recent years.

In Big Ben's two losses, the Steelers averaged 28 points: a 41-27 loss in the 2004 AFC title game to the dynastic Patriots in his rookie year, and a 31-29 loss to the Jaguars in the 2007 playoffs, after a down year for Pittsburgh.

His ability to hold up under pressure and make big third down plays (the Steelers were 6-of-11) goes past the box score, and another Super Bowl win would be enough to start carving his Hall of Fame bust.

2. No one saw the Rashard Mendenhall Express coming. Mendenhallís last six games of the season didnít do much to inspire confidence that Pittsburgh would be able to run the ball against the stingy Jets.

In six games, mostly against similarly good run defenses, he had 106 carries for 357 yards and 3.4 YPA. Against the Jets? He was supposed to pound out just enough yards to keep play action honest and thatís about it.

Instead, he was the offensive MVP
Ė maybe the only Steelers offensive player that you could say played well, and it was very well.

Not only did he run 27 times for 121 yards (4.48 YPA), he caught two big 16-yard passes and generally played like a fast, young Jerome Bettis. The Steelers can only hope theyíll get that same Mendenhall in two weeks.

3. Mark Sanchez might just be good after all. After the game, Rex Ryan referred to Sanchez morphing into a top quarterback sooner than later, and there are signs of it.

He turned in a championship-caliber effort against a very good defense (20 of 33, 60.6%, 233 yards, 7.1 YPA, 2 TDs, 0 INT, 102.2 rating) Sunday, played through pain, and showed great leadership in his post-loss demeanor, consoling teammates and offering sincere congratulations.

Sanchez went from a 63.0 rating as a rookie to a 75.3 in his sophomore season, and itís reasonable to believe that that growth pattern has him in the 90s by his fourth year. The Jets arenít built as a one-year wonder, and Sanchez looks more and more like the right fit for this franchise.

4. Good as Sanchez might be, itís Darrelle Revis that makes the future so bright for the Jets. Revis wasnít on Mike Wallace all game, but he was the main reason the Pittsburgh deep threat had one catch for 6 yards. Revisí impact on the game was felt by three straight franchise quarterbacks Ė no one, including Aaron Rodgers, has been better in the 2010 playoffs than Revis.

The Jetsí DBs followed up their domination of Brady with a huge effort against the Pittsburgh wideouts, who combined for 5 catches for 54 yards all night. Had the run defense not been so surprisingly poor, this probably would have been a green-and-white celebration Sunday night.

5. If the Steelers want to play the ďdisrespect card,Ē being a 2-point underdog in Vegas is a slam. When a 14-4 team thatís a perennial power makes the Super Bowl against a No. 6 seed, they can usually expect to be the favorite. Not the case for the Steelers, who were installed as the early underdog pending later action.
Itís a bit of a surprise, and is no small historical disadvantage for the Steelers. Only 12 of 44 previous underdogs have won the Super Bowl.

However, this also promises to be one of the smallest spreads in Super Bowl history. Only the 49ers-Bengals in Super Bowl XVI and the Dolphins-Redskins in Super Bowl VII were considered closer by Vegas. Both games opened at -1. And if a lot of Steelers money comes in, it could be a pickíem by kickoff.

6. The Steelers have O-line issues for the Super Bowl. Who is Doug Legursky? Even Steelers fans didnít know much about him until a couple weeks back, and they have to hope that they wonít hear his name in the Super Bowl starting lineup.

Itís not often that you see a guy come off the bench to play left tackle one week and center the next Ė and itís even rarer for his team to win both games, in the playoffs no less.

But thatís what the little-known Legursky did Sunday, coming in for the injured Maurkice Pouncey and playing a shaky second half. Legursky and Roethlisberger cost the Steelers two points on the fumbled snap, and the Jetsí defensive surge coincided largely with Pounceyís exit.

News that Pounceyís injury was ankle and not knee related is good news for the Steelers, who will need all the help they can get against NFC title game star B.J. Raji and the rest of Green Bayís excellent middle.

7. LaDainian Tomlinson will probably be back for another season with the Jets, but his role has to be reduced. Ryanís respect for Tomlinson is clear, and the future Hall of Famer had his moments this year. But the Jetsí best chance to win this game would have been Shonn Greene at tailback.

Except for the first month of the season, Greene has been the better back, statistically and with the eye test. In a game against a great run defense, Ryan needed to put his best foot forward with Greene in the early stages rather than giving LT another shot.

Instead, it was LTís number that was called on 4th and goal from the 1 in the fourth quarter. He went up the middle and was stuffed for no gain. Greene, the bigger, younger more productive back, was the better the option.
Tomlinson turns 32 this summer, and with an average-to-middling season under his belt despite good health, he will probably have to accept a smaller role in 2011 if the Jets want to get one step better.

8. Pittsburgh's 3-4 should be an interesting challenge for the Packers. Green Bay plays in an NFC North thatís all 4-3 (except for themselves), and they beat three 4-3 teams to get to Dallas.

Now, here comes the ultimate 3-4 in Pittsburgh, which has the best group of linebackers without question in the NFL. The Packers were 2-3 against teams that run that set, and they put up only nine points in a win over the Jets this year (9-0) thanks to that scheme, which is more popular in the AFC.

Is it a major concern? Well, the Packers will get to see plenty of 3-4 from their own defense in practice, so probably not. But itís a bit of a wild card to consider.
9. The Jets continue to be the team thatís almost good enough. New York is now 12-13 all time in the playoffs, and really hasnít gotten that close to a Super Bowl since the Namath magic. In these back-to-back AFC title games, they either peaked too early or too late, they allowed way too many points for a defensive team (30 and 24), and you never really got the sense that they were going to win the game.

The problem? As much as Sanchez might be good someday, heís a question mark now, and one thatís haunted the Jets since Namathís knees went.
They havenít had an MVP quality QB since Namath Ė not even close Ė and thatís who wins championships. A great pass defense is a very good thing to have, but itís not enough when the chips are down.

10. Super Bowl XLV is going to be a classic. Franchise QBs? Check. Great organizations? Check. NFL history? Check. Teams with big national followings? Check. Game expected to be a close one? Check.

You really have to go back to Super Bowl XIX in January 1985 to find a similarly good matchup, when Dan Marinoís Dolphins went up against Joe Montanaís 49ers in a game that was considered a tossup. As it turned out, the 49ers dominated the game, but heading in it had all the earmarks of a classic.

So does this one, and considering the passion of both cities, the city of Dallas is going to be buzzing in ways Jerry Jones has to find painfully bittersweet.
Two weeks to go. Bring on the Bowl.
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Old 01-24-2011, 09:24 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers 24, Jets 19: Ten things we learned

Quote:
Originally Posted by mesaSteeler View Post
2. No one saw the Rashard Mendenhall Express coming. Mendenhall’s last six games of the season didn’t do much to inspire confidence that Pittsburgh would be able to run the ball against the stingy Jets.

In six games, mostly against similarly good run defenses, he had 106 carries for 357 yards and 3.4 YPA. Against the Jets? He was supposed to pound out just enough yards to keep play action honest and that’s about it.

Instead, he was the offensive MVP
– maybe the only Steelers offensive player that you could say played well, and it was very well.

Not only did he run 27 times for 121 yards (4.48 YPA), he caught two big 16-yard passes and generally played like a fast, young Jerome Bettis. The Steelers can only hope they’ll get that same Mendenhall in two weeks.
Nobody saw it coming? I did lol, I mentioned that if jets are playing pass and bring in extra cover men we're gonna run over their asses, and that's what happened.

We will need another big time performance from him in the super bowl, which may very well happen. The packers are good in overall defense, certainly pass defense, but their rush defense is average at best (18th in the league).
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Old 01-24-2011, 09:25 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers 24, Jets 19: Ten things we learned

as far as being "underdogs" in Vegas...its not surprising.. The media has completely fallen head over heels in love with Aaron Rogers.
If both teams play well, this could be a very evenly matched game
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