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article imageNFL: Steelers defense boost team into Super Bowl XLV

By Kristofor Molson     Jan 24, 2011 in Sports
Pittsburgh - The Pittsburgh defense did what they did all year, and that is put teams down and cause them to do things that are uncharacteristic of their game plan.
Last night was no different and the Steelers’ D showed why they are ranked in the top five in almost every defensive statistic in the NFL.
The Pittsburgh Steelers (12 – 4) took on the New York Jets (11-5) in a rematch game from week 15 when the Jets came in and gave the Steelers a loss 22 to 17. The Jets took the nice guy approach coming into this game, but like they say “Nice guys finish last.”
The Jets won the coin toss but elected to defer until the second half giving the Steelers offense the ball first, and that turned into one long drive for the Steelers offense. They rolled down the field 15 plays over a span of 9:06 for 66 yards capping it off with a touchdown run from Rashard Mendenhall (27 car, 121 yds, 1 td) going in for the score from 1 yard out. Mendenhall was the bulk of the Steelers offense running like a true work horse to milk the clock helping the Steelers wear down the Jets defense and keep the Jets offense on the sideline.
When the Jets finally got their chance to start a drive of their own but fell short. The Jets only having the ball for 4:03 for 7 plays and a total of 29 yards quickly put their defense back on the field. The Jets made a few passes and tried to get the running game started with LaDainian Tomlinson (9 car, 16 yds) but could not get a spark looking dazed from the attach of the Steelers defense.
The Steelers tried to take advantage but Ben Roethlisberger (10/19, 133 yds, 0 tds, 2 ints) threw his first interception of the game to Bryan Thomas, but yet again the Jets could not move the ball down the field to take advantage of the turnover. The Jets held the ball for two minutes and mustard no yards on the Steelers defense ending that 2 minute drive with -2 total yards before having to punt again.
The Steelers then marched down the field to get a field goal to push their lead 10 – 0 off a 60 yard drive on 8 plays. Ben threw two passes that was incomplete that drive, and most of the yards came from Mendenhall and Isaac Redman (4 car, 27 yds) tag teaming that drive for Shaun Suisham to come in and kick the 20 yard field goal.
The Jets could not get anything going having to punt again, but this time they went four and out to bring a tired defense back on the field. The Steelers took advantage, taking 3:57 to go down and score again on the Jets again. This time Ben ran it in from two yards out to push their lead 17 – 0. After that it looked like it was going to be a blow out in favor of the Steelers.
With the Jets down 17 – 0 with two minutes left in the half, Mark Sanchez (20/33 223 yds, 2 TD's) dropped back to pass only to have Ike Taylor come in and knock the ball lose. William Gay came in to pick the ball up and run it into the end zone to put the Steelers up 24 – 0. The play was reviewed but the call stood as the refs said Sanchez’s arm was not moving forward. The Jets then bounced back to kick a field goal just before the half was over to go in down 24 – 3.
After the half the Jets looked like a different team and the Steelers could not even come close to touching the end zone. Sanchez led the Jets on a 90 yard 2:47 drive that took just 5 plays for their first touchdown of the game. Santonio Holmes (2 rec, 61 yds, 1 td) broke off his route and threw his hand up for Sanchez to throw it and hit him for a 45 yard touchdown catch against his old team where he was a Super Bowl MVP to make the score 24 - 10.
The Steelers tried to answer the Jets second half opening drive, but fell short after a fumble by Ben that he recovered and then he threw another interception. Ben threw his second interception of the game on a pass that was intended for Emmanuel Sanders, but was intercepted by Brodney Pool. Again the Jets could not capitalize with them having to punt again.
The Jets got the ball back after the Steelers had to punt, and the Jets marched down the field 80 yards with a mix of Sanchez passing and Shonn Greene (9 car, 52 yds) running to put the Jets in scoring position. With four downs from the Jets two yard line the Jets had four chances to get the ball in, but could not do it with eight minutes left in the game. Greene tried a run but could not get in, but put the ball on the one yard line. Then the Jets passed the ball twice one to Dustin Keller who dropped the pass, and one to Holmes who had no chance with Lamar Woodley batting it down at the line. The Jets took one more shot with Tomlinson trying to run it in, but was stonewalled by the Steelers defense to turn it over on downs.
The Steelers looking to run the game out had Ben fumble in the end zone to give the Jets a safety and the ball back with 7:38 left in the game with the score 24 - 12. After the free kick the Jet drove down the field mostly in no huddle to score on a Sanchez pass to Jerricho Cotchery (5 rec, 33 yds, 1 td). The four yard touchdown catch put the game closer 24 – 19, but that was the last time the Jets would have their hands on the ball.
The Jets kicked the ball deep expecting their defense to stop the Steelers, but fell short to have Ben end the game with a couple of passes for key first downs. He then took three knees to seal it and get the Steelers another AFC crown once again and a trip to Dallas for Super Bowl XLV.
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