AFC Championship Game: Jets Vs. Steelers Preview
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – After a week’s worth of talking, the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets will meet in the AFC Championship Game tonight.
In the end, actions speak louder than words and the Steelers will be looking to punch their ticket to their eighth Super Bowl.
These two teams met in Week 15, with the Jets coming out on top by a 22-17 margin.
Nine of the Jets points came with the Steelers’ defense on the sidelines in that game. Brad Smith returned the opening kickoff 97 yards to put the Jets up early.
In the fourth quarter, Jason Taylor dropped Mewelde Moore in the endzone for a safety to seal the victory.
How The Jets Got Here
The Jets finished the regular season with am 11-5 record, which was good enough to secure the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC.
Over the course of the playoffs, the Jets have become giant killers.
In the Wild Card Round, the Jets traveled to Indianapolis to take on Peyton Manning and the Colts.
New York grabbed the lead for the first time on LaDainian Tomlinson’s 1-yard touchdown run with 10 minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
A 32-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri cut New York’s lead to 14-13. Then, with 53 seconds left, Vinatieri drilled a 50-yard field goal to take the lead 16-14.
Antonio Cromartie returned the ensuing kickoff to the Jets’ 46-yard line.
After running four plays, Nick Folk converted a 32-yard field goal as time expired to stun the Colts 17-16.
In the Divisional Playoff Round, the Jets traveled to New England.
Once again, they shocked the world by dropping Tom Brady and the No. 1 seeded Patriots 28-21.
In the first quarter, New England got on the board first with a 32-yard field goal by Shayne Graham. It would be the only time the Patriots would hold the lead in the game.
In the second quarter, Mark Sanchez found Tomlinson for a seven-yard touchdown pass to take a 7-3 lead. Later in the quarter, Sanchez found Braylon Edwards for a 15-yard touchdown pass to take a 14-3 lead into the intermission.
In the third quarter, Brady hooked up with Alge Crumpler for a two-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 14-11.
Former Steeler, Santonio Holmes made a highlight reel catch in the back of the endzone early in the fourth quarter to put New York ahead 21-11.
After another field goal by Graham, the Shonn Green put the game away with a 16-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 28-14.
The Patriots were able to muster a late touchdown, but the game never seemed to be in question for the Jets.
Their defense confused the Patriots and got plenty of pressure on Brady to secure their place in the AFC Championship Game.
How The Steelers Got Here
The Steelers finished the regular season with a 12-4 record, which was good enough to clinch the AFC North title and lock up the No. 2 seed.
After their first-round bye in the playoffs, Pittsburgh played host to the hated Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional Round.
Rashard Mendenhall drew first blood in the game with a one-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
However, the Ravens responded with 21 unanswered points to take a 21-7 lead at halftime.
Fans were stunned to see their team trailing, but the Steelers came out in the second half with a renewed sense of purpose.
The comeback began when Ryan Clark forced a fumble with just over 10 minutes to play in the third quarter.
Ben Roethlisberger capped the scoring drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Heath Miller with 9:11 left in the quarter.
Later in the quarter, Clark struck again. This time, he came up with a huge interception to set up the game-tying touchdown.
Roethlisberger connected with Hines Ward for an eight-yard touchdown to knot the score at 21 with 1:21 to play in quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Joe Flacco fumbled a snap and Brett Keisel fell on it giving Pittsburgh the ball back on Baltimore’s 23-yard line.
However, they would have to settle for a 35-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham to regain the lead 24-21.
Later, Baltimore forced the Steelers to go three-and-out. On the ensuing punt, Lardarius Webb returned it 55 yards for a touchdown. However, a holding penalty negated it and the Ravens would eventually settle for a 24-yard field goal to tie the game at 24 with 3:55 to play.
That was more than enough time for Roethlisberger to lead the Steelers down the field for the game-winning touchdown.
On a third-and-19, Roethlisberger went to the air and found Antonio Brown streaking down the sidelines for 58 yards. He was forced out of bounds at the Ravens’ four-yard line.
Mendenhall sealed the deal with a two-yard touchdown run with 1:33 to play.
The only time these two teams have met in the playoffs was on Jan. 15, 2005, in the AFC Divisional Round. Pittsburgh won that game 20-17 in overtime at Heinz Field.
A win for the Steelers would send them to their eight Super Bowl in search of their seventh title.
Pittsburgh is 7-7 all-time in the AFC Championship Game with a 5-5 record at home.
The Jets are playing in just their fifth AFC Championship Game. They hold a 1-3 record in their previous four trips.
This is the second consecutive year the Jets have reached the AFC Championship Game.
Last season, the Jets lost to the Colts 30-17.
Their lone win came back in 1968 against the Oakland Raiders.
They went on to beat Baltimore 16-7 in Super Bowl III.
You can watch the game on KDKA-TV at 6:30 p.m.