AFC Championship Game
Steelers 24, New York Jets 19
January 23, 2011
It was a cold night at Heinz Field, with game time temperature just 17 degrees and the wind chill 5, but the Steelers heated up fast.
Running back Rashard Mendenhall, who would be the key to the Steelers’ offense all day, got the Steelers on the board first with a one-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. But there was bad news too when center Maurkice Pouncey was carted off the field with an ankle injury. The next man up mentality immediately came into play, and all answered.
“The offensive line has done a great job all year,” said Mendenhall after the game. “Guys have been going down. Guys had to step up. They controlled the line of scrimmage all day today. Our run game has been successful all year. It just says a lot about those guys.”
The Steelers lead grew in the second quarter after a Shaun Suisham field goal, and two-yard touchdown run by Ben Roethlisberger for a 17-0 lead. After cornerback Ike Taylor sacked Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, forcing a fumble that William Gay recovered and returned 19 yards for a touchdown and a 24-0 lead, it looked like the Steelers would be rolling.
“It was great coverage and a great blitz by Ike Taylor,” said Gay after the game. “It was a great blitz. Everybody did their part. That’s all it was. Everybody just did their part. Ike did a little extra trying to get to the ball out. I just didn’t want to fall on it. I wanted to try to score with it. It gave me an opportunity. They guys made great blocks and I just walked into the end zone.”
The Jets got on the board late in the half with a field goal, sending a confident Steelers team into the locker room up 24-3 at the half.
Things changed in the second half when it was the Jets who caught fire. The Jets got the ball to start the second half and drove 90 yards on five plays that was capped by a 45-yard touchdown pass from Sanchez to former Steelers’ receiver Santonio Holmes to close the gap to 24-10. The Jets got a safety when Roethlisberger fumbled the snap from center Doug Legursky and then had to fall on the ball for a safety. The Jets got the ball and Sanchez connected with Jerricho Cotchery for a four-yard touchdown pass and to cut the lead to 24-19.
The Steelers got the ball back with 3:09 on the clock and did what they needed to, moving the chains twice before Roethlisberger was able to end the game by taking a knee three times for the win.