OK, where do we start? We are AFC Champions. How is that?
The stat line on Ben Roethlisberger no way tells the story of his performance. The 2 interceptions were acceptable if there were such a thing. Rashard Mendenhall flubbed one and the other deep ball was worth a shot. I can live with both of those. He made plays when he had to and bruised his thigh early in the game when he took a knee to it. That big 3rd down throw to Antonio Brown is why you want Ben on your side. The worst of Ben was the fumbled snap for the safety, but it is to be expected with a back-up center in the game. He had some key scrambles and it was just Ben being Ben and doing what he does. The focus was to run first and get the safeties up and attack them and the linebackers. They knew better to attack Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.
This line has been cursed with injuries all year long, but the next guy up has always done just enough all season. When rookie Maurkice Pouncey went down, I had a feeling that was it for him on the day. Doug Legursky is a better center than he is a guard and it is the main reason why he made the team. The rest of the offensive line played above the line, but had their moments in the second half, especially on the sacks. They looked like they lost some intensity in the 3rd quarter. I will break this down per my usual and have it up early this week. It sounds like Pouncey will be ready for the Super Bowl with a bad ankle. Do not expect him to work hardly any up until a few days before the game. He will be booted for I while I think. Good for Flozell Adams. I am so glad to see him get a shot at a ring with us. Jonathan Scott, Ramon Foster and Chris Kemoeatu did enough and the tape will not lie.
I had a good feeling Mendenhall would be able to run the ball. He broke a ton of tackles and earned every yard. He punished the Jets safeties and made the linebackers make plays like I said in my preview. Isaac Redman took advantage of all his carries and Mewelde Moore had a big catch, his only one of the game.
I knew the Jets would do their best to take Mike Wallace out of the game. They did that job. Roethlisberger under threw Wallace on the only real shot they had at a homerun. Wallace did a great job stretching the field and clearing out the middle for Heath Miller, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown. The kids came through with each of their catches at big times. Miller got screwed on the first drive on that overturned catch. Hines Ward was blanketed all day. David Johnson had some big blocks.
The Steelers defense was bending a ton in the 2nd half. Ike Taylor had a few flag calls on him and both Bryant McFadden and William Gay allowed separation at times. The Jets receiving core is good. Taylor fell down on the Santonio Holmes touchdown and the Jerricho Cotchery touchdown came on a great rub play where the Steelers defensive backs ran into each other. The safety play was a bit average on Sunday, but Troy Polamalu was close to a few picks and he and Ryan Clark were trying to bait Mark Sanchez into some ill advised throws.
The Steelers linebackers were solid. Lawrence Timmons had a huge touchdown saving tackle on a Cotchery catch and finished with 9 tackles. James Farrior had some big pops and played well against the run. LaMarr Woodley had a big sack and a big pass knockdown. The pressure was good most of the night, but you would of like to of seen Sanchez hit a little bit more. He seemed to have more time in the 2nd half. James Harrison stayed home on a few runs and was not fooled. The defensive line and linebackers were great against the run outside of one big run by Shonn Greene. That goal-line stand perhaps won the the game.
Bruce Arians had the Jets off balance for all of the 1st half. The Steelers had the ball just 4 times in the second half. One was the 1 play drive that was a fumbled snap that ended in a safety. The first drive of the 2nd half was aided by the roughing the kicker call and the Jets were doing best to stop the run by stacking the box. The interception was as good as a deep punt if you buy that theory. The offense did lose their rhythm as the Jets had the ball for 2 long drives in the 4th quarter. The Steelers final drive, they did what they needed to do to run out the clock. That 3rd down call showed guts and was the right call. Brown made a great play.
Special teams were not all that. Hopefully Will Allen gets healthy and every punt return and kickoff return you hold your breathe on. Jeremy Kapinos is not good and Shaun Suisham had you scratching your head on a few kickoffs. Brown had a key kickoff return on the last one for great field position.
The game trailed from great to sloppy, but a win is a win and no style points are awarded. We won. We are off to Dallas to play the Packers.