Sunday, January 23, 2011

AFC Championship Game "Pre-Review": Pittsburgh Steeler vs. New York Jets

1st quarter

The Jets receive the ball to start the game and Kyle Wilson returns the opening kick for a 102 yard TD.

Heinz Field is now as lively as a mayonnaise sandwich.

Big Ben and the Steelers take the field quicker than they expected, trailing 7-0.

Hoping to establish a theme for the game, Pittsburgh’s first play is run up the middle by Rashard Mendenhall.

Pittsburgh is unable to gain meaningful yards and punts after three plays.

Both defenses flex their muscle and the teams exchange punts, leaving New York with the ball on their 23 yard line with 3:44 left in the quarter.

Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes combine for 2 catches for 25 yards, followed by a LaDainian Tomlinson 31 yard screen pass.

Knocking on the door, hoping to gain a two TD advantage while maintaining a street-fight mentality, the Jets tap the brakes and give Shonn Greene two rushes up the middle.

Facing 3rd and 1 from the 11 yard line, Rex Ryan calls for another Greene rush. However, this time, Ziggy Hood barrels through the blockers and seemingly hugs the runner while also slamming him to the turf, but not before the ball is knocked loose and Troy Palatal recovers.

Heinz Field is now as exciting as a ground beef, egg, and cheese omelet, with ketchup.

End of 1st: New York 7- Pittsburgh 0

2nd quarter

The defenses continue to dominate.

After another exchange of punts, Pittsburgh takes the ball at their 17 yard line with 10:02 left in the half.

Big Ben and Hines Ward combine for a couple completions outside. Mendenhall finds space off tackle for some nice runs. The Steelers are moving the ball and taking momentum.

After 11 plays, 6:57 off the clock, and 71 yards gained, Pittsburgh gets on the board with a Roethlisberger to Heath Miller play action pass, similar to Greg Olsen’s patterns throughout last game, except that Miller scores a 12 yard TD to even the game 7-7.

New York, steadily prodding along, aimlessly, look to change their fortune through the air with 2:55 left in the half.

A couple screen passes to Tomlinson advance the ball to the Steelers’ 39 yard line at the 2:00 warning.

Unable to find Braylon Edwards, Sanchez checks down to Dustin Keller, who is open 10 yards down the field and gains 17 yards on the play.

The Steelers test the young QB with three straight blitzes. The pressure proves to be too much as Palatal knocks down a third down pass attempt, forcing the Jets to kick a FG.

Halftime: New York 10- Pittsburgh 7

3rd quarter

Pittsburgh receives the ball and is able to mustard, I mean, muster up the same energy that guided them through their 12-play TD drive.

Ward for 6 yards here, Mendenhall for 4 yards there, Big Ben for 13 rushing yards after escaping the grasp of Bart Scott in the backfield. The Steelers seem headed for a lead changing TD.

On first and 10 from the Jets 27 yard line, Ben gets frisky (again?) and decides to test Darrelle Revis with a play-action slant route to Mike Wallace.

This proves to be costly…for the Jets. Revis’ superior ability allows him to deflect the pass, which pops up in the air and lands in the waiting arms of Heath Miller, who rumbles down to the 4 yard line.

How about another ground beef, egg, and cheese omelet?

Three rushes and a Mendenhall wrecking ball of a TD run later, the Steelers find themselves ahead 14-10 with 7:21 remaining in the quarter.

The Jets, unable to put any points on the board since the opening kickoff, finally get the ball in the second half.

Sanchez tries to rally his troops with a couple quick passes. Edwards takes one of these quick hits and manages 19 yards after eluding a Palatal dive tackle.

After a Greene blast through the middle gains another 19 yards, New York seems to grab some momentum.

Faced with a second down and 6 from Pittsburgh’s 31 yard line and 4:20 left in the quarter, the Jets finally strike deep with a TD pass from Sanchez to Edwards in the corner of the end-zone.

New York holds Big Ben and the Steelers to a three and out.

Who ate the last mayonnaise sandwich?

End of 3rd: New York 17- Pittsburgh 14

4th quarter

The Jets are flying high.

LT and Greene find more space in the fourth quarter as New York marches from their own 20 yard line down to the Steelers’ 33.

With 10:57 left in the game, Sanchez eludes pressure from James Harrison while scampering toward the sideline. About to run out of bounds, Sanchez finds an open Santonio Holmes striding toward the deep corner of the end-zone. An absolutely perfect pass would have led to a TD. A merely great pass, however, leads to an even greater play by Ryan Clark, who dives at the last second and deflects what would have been a dagger of a score.

New York settles for a FG and a 20-14 lead.

Pittsburgh produces a couple first downs, but the drive fizzles after Bart Scott deflects a third down pass intended for Heath Miller.

The Steelers punt and New York takes over at their 14 yard line with 7:03 remaining.

Rush on first and second down, then pass on third down. The formula works for two first downs.

Rush on first and second down, then pass on third down. This time it does not work, as Ryan Clark intercepts a Sanchez to Keller pass attempt at Pittsburgh’s 46 yard line.

The scenario is familiar. Big Ben and the Steelers, down six with 3:13 left in the game, have one last drive to win the game and advance to their third Super Bowl in six years.

The Jets’ prevent defense allows a couple short gains, and irks Rex Ryan enough to abandon this approach.

After driving to New York’s 22 yard line with 1:02 left, Pittsburgh has their entire playbook at their disposal.

On third and 8, Big Ben steps back, seems to elude the pressure facing him, but is then bulldozed by blitzing safety Eric Smith, who knocks the ball loose.

The fumble is recovered by Calvin Pace.

Final: New York 20- Pittsburgh 14


Defense and turnovers was the name of the game today. New York squeaks by Pittsburgh in a hotly contested match-up, the heat of which can only be matched by two rats mating in a wool sock.

Notable stats:

New York

Mark Sanchez: 16-29 183 yards 1 TD 1 INT

LaDainian Tomlinson: 15 rushes 49 yards
4 receptions 36 yards

Braylon Edwards: 3 receptions 77 yards


Ben Roethlisberger: 20-40 210 yards 1 TD 1 INT

Rashard Mendenhall: 22 rushes 71 yards 1 TD

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