Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Simply Super. Steelers 24, Jets 19

Dominate and then hold your breath. That is what last night felt like. After watching the Packers and Bears struggle it out in the first game some of you might have been thinking what I was thinking: “Well since this one is close the Steelers might be set up for a not so stressful game.” Not so much. It was setting up to be like that in the first half and then things were getting to heart attack mode in the second half before the defense, and Ben Roethlisberger, stepped up when they need to most.

The Steelers are going to the Super Bowl, again. This will be the Steelers third trip to the big game in the last seven years. As Steelers fans we are truly spoiled with a great franchise that gives us the opportunity to see a Super Bowl almost every two or three years. With that being said that does not take away from the feeling that I got when the clock hit zero. Despite the success that the Steelers had during my lifetime I want it just as bad as I wanted that fifth and sixth Super Bowl Championships.

Bask in the glory Pittsburgh. You deserve it.

Oh yea.

Tomlin’s speech there might have cured cancer.

Post Game Thoughts:

-The first half was about as dominant half of football as you get. Outside of Markice Pouncey getting hurt I really can’t think of anything that went bad. Rashard Mendenhall was in beast mode and the defense was as stout as you expected against a team that was trying to run the football. For some reason Rex Ryan won the toss and deferred. Turned out to be fatal. Ben Roethlisberger and Rashard Mendenhall took the offense 66 yards on 15 plays and ate up over nine minutes and Mendenhall cashed in with a one yard run. It was all down hill from there for the Jets as they were just terrible. If you don’t believe me take a look at these first half stats:

Unreal. The Steelers gave up a late field goal, but going into the half up 24-3 is never a bad thing in the AFC Championship game. Ever.

-Rashard Mendenhall must have read what Peter King said. For those of you that are unfamiliar Peter King wrote in his Monday Morning QB last week that Rashard Mendenhall was not a “big game back”. I guess Mendenhall read what Peter had to say and decided to go full on beast mode on the Jets and literally beat them by himself. This could sum up Mendenhall in the first half:

What a game.

Mendenhall toted the rock 27 times for 121 yards and a touchdown and also caught two passes for 32 yards. Not too bad for a guy that isn’t good in big games. Mendenhall also ripped off this run for 35 yards:

What a game.

-If you solely looked at Ben Roethilisberger’s stat line then you would have no idea how the Steelers won the football game. 10/19, 133 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT. Good thing that stats don’t mean everything. The picks that Ben threw weren’t terrible, one a bad bounce off Rashard Mendenhall hand and right into the hands of a Jets defender. The other pick was a deep ball that wasn’t very well thrown, but it was essentially a punt. What Ben did do was score on a beautiful bootleg play to make the score 17-0 and cash in one a couple of even bigger pass plays to Heath Miller and Antonio Brown to end the game. If stat lines won and lost football games then the Steelers might not have won, but the intangables that Ben brings to the table makes this football team so much better. On the first drive he used his legs on a third and 12 to move the chains and he got outside of the pocket on the third down at the two minute warning to clinch the game. People are going to rag on him for his statline, but Ben excelled at all the little things it takes to win football games. He is now 10-2 all-time in the playoffs. I’ll take that every day of the week.

-Much like Ben Roethlisberger, Heath Miller had a pretty quite night in fantasy football. Only three catches for 38 yards, but he was much more than that. The first time around Heath wasn’t in the fold the first time against the Jets and it hurt. Not only Miller is a great pass catcher but he is an excellent blocker as well. While most tight ends in the league are either very good receivers or very good blockers Miller is a perfect mix of both and that was on full display against the Jets. On one Rashard Mendenhall run Miller was able to drive his block eight yards down the field for a pancake. He was doing it all night folks. On the receiving end Ben found Heath for the first third down conversion. It wasn’t the best throw by Ben but Heath was able to grab it off is back hip and move the chains. He makes all the difference in a football game.

-If there was one thing that the Steelers didn’t need was another offensive lineman hurt. Maurkice Pouncey went down with a high ankle sprain on the first series and you had to be worried that things were going to start to go down hill really quick. In stepped Doug Legursky and he did a pretty nice job filling in. DL is not nearly as athletic as Pouncey, but he is a much better center than a guard. Sure there were two fumbled snapped, one cost the Steelers two points, but I can’t imagine him getting any work with Ben during the week. Very admirable job filling in though and when you are down as many offensive lineman as the Steelers are and you can get production like that out of a backup guard/center you will take it. In the game Kemo was the only starter left form the beginning of the season in there. That brings me to my next point:

-The big uglies did a great job, especially in the first half, of making holes and absolutely dominating the Jets front seven. The Steelers pounded the rock on Sunday 43 times for 166 yards which equals almost four yards per carry. You are going to win a lot of football games, especially in the playoffs. Sure, Mendenhall was breaking a lot of tackles and mustering a lot of his yards after contact but the line was getting some holes so big that Jerome Bettis could run through them. Ben was kept relatively clean as he was only sacked twice and both were on the same drive. It happens.

-Despite the Jets getting back into the ballgame I think the defense played pretty well last night. The Jets scored 19 points. Two of them via a safety and another seven because Ike Taylor fell in the middle of a route for the Holmes touchdown. Now, I am not saying that the Jets were not going to score on that drive, but kind of a freaky play when your DB slips and falls in the middle of a route leaving a receiver wide open. Sure they played soft to give up a field goal at the end of the half, but what do you want them to do? Lets not forget this is the same defense that forced a defensive touchdown that turned out to be the game winner. Also the Steelers run defense was just stout as you can be. The goal line stand was big and although they gave up the touchdown to pull the game within five the defense didn’t give up the big play and forced the Jets to use a ton of clock. Vintage Steelers defense. Last year this was an easy loss in this situation.

-Gotta give my props to the Jets. After giving up a strip sack touchdown it would have very easy to just pack it in and lose 34-10, but they didn’t. That is the reason they were in the AFC Championship game and they fought back to make this game somewhat interesting. The problem for the Jets was that this was actually a good defense. I am still not a Mark Sanchez fan but outside of the fumble he really didn’t do anything to kill them and converted a few passes, it just wasn’t enough. Good heart, but with no running game they really didn’t have much to work with.

-Mike Tomlin. Coach of the Year. I don’t care what you say. Starting the season without Ben Roethlisberger, losing almost every single starting offensive lineman, losing your punter and kicker midseason, not having Troy for a chunk of time and after some picked this team to get only seven or eight wins all he does is win another AFC Championship and win 12 regular season games. He is a cool cat and has the pulse of this team. I would be shocked if he doesn’t receive this award.

-Some post game interviews:

-The Steelers will match up against the Packers in the Super Bowl. Since I live about 90 minutes outside of Green Bay and right in the thick of Wisconsin this should be an interesting couple of weeks. Not going to talk about the Packers now, I will have plenty of time to do that. Soak this in.

Leave it in the comments with anything I missed.

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