The whole week the Steelers kept their mouths shut. They didn’t play into the talking of the Jets, lying low until they were able to take the field Sunday evening with something to prove. And they did.
The Steelers built a 24-0 lead by crushing the upstart New York Jets in the first 29 minutes, and while in the end it wasn’t pretty, the black and gold held on for a 24-19 win to move on to take on the Packers in Super Bowl XLV.
The Jets made quite a game of it in the final 30 minutes. Down 24-3, they got a score as Mark Sanchez found former Steelers WR Santonio Holmes with a 45-yard score early in the third quarter to make it 24-10.
New York’s defense finally shut down the Steelers run game, and then went on a long drive with a critical 4th-and-goal from the Steelers one. The Steelers D stepped up, stopping LaDainian Tomlinson with 7:44 to hold on to the two touchdown lead.
Instead of putting the game away, the Steelers tried to give it right back. Without starting center Markuice Pouncey, who left with an ankle injury, Roethlisberger fumbled the snap, and had to fall on the ball in the end zone for a safety to make it 24-12 with 7:38 left.
Then New York went on a TD drive to make it even closer, as they went from their 42 to the Steelers end zone on a Sanchez to Jerricho Cotchery 4-yard pass to make it 24-19 with 3:06 left.
It was then time for once again, Antonio Brown to make a couple key plays to clinch it. The first was a kick return to the Jets 41 of 27 yards.
After a run and a Jets time out, the Steelers went to the air, as Roethlisberger hit Heath Miller for 14 yards and a first down to the Jets 44.
A couple more runs set up a 3rd-and-6 from the Jets 40 at the two minute warning. It was time for Ben again to find his new pal, as scrambling outside the pocket, he fired a great pass to Brown, who caught it for a 14-yard gain to the Jets 26 to clinch it.
Three knees later, the Steelers are again on their way to the dance.
While many will say it shouldn’t have been that close, Mike Tomlin will tell the team, the media, and anyone that will listen – “style points don’t matter.” The game ended up being flat out ugly, but again, all the Steelers wanted to do was win, and for that – mission accomplished.
The game looked like a runaway as the Steelers completely dominated the first half, leading 7-0, 10-0, 17-0 and 24-0 against a Jets team that looked flat out tired.
Things looked like they were going to be totally out of hand after Ike Taylor sacked Sanchez, knocking the ball out of his hand, and William Gay picked up the ball and went in from 19 yards out to make it 24-0.
Give the Jets credit, they threw different things at the Steelers in the second half that stopped the run game of Mendenhall, who on the day ran for 121 yards on 27 carries with a score. Roethlisberger was 10-for-19 for 133 yards with two picks, and he also ran in a score as well.
Sanchez was 20-for-33 for 233 yards with two scores. The Jets on the day had just one rushing yard in the first half, and ended with 70 yards on 22 carries.
The Steelers will play the Packers on Sunday, February 6th with a shot at their 7th Lombardi trophy. The Packers open in Vegas as 2.5 point favorites.