|Steelers Leave Jets Green With Envy...|
|Written by Cotter|
|January 26, 2011 18:02|
I don't think I can stress this enough, you guys - the Steelers are in the Super Bowl.
THE, SUPER. BOWL.
As in the game that all teams covet playing in, yet only 6.25% of the NFL gets to play in each season...
The biggest game of the NFL season, no matter what team you follow...
And the game that will determine who will bear the title of world champion until they crown a new one next February.
Going into, and over the course of the season, there were so many things to count against the Steelers for 2011.
Ben's suspension, trading Santonio, Willie Colon on IR before the season even started, Dennis Dixon on IR after basically one game, Max Starks on IR, Aaron Smith's torn tricep, Troy's achilles, Keisel's knee, McFadden's hip/whatever, Heath Miller's concussion, lingering concerns about the defense stemming from last season, and of course, who could forget - LIMAS SWEED ON IR!!!!
There weren't too many outside of Steeler nation who thought they'd make it all the way to Dallas.
But, who's laughing now?
We believed, when no one else did. Because we knew that what happens to the Steelers in the offseason or over the course of the season does not deter them from their annual goal; their annual quest to secure the piece of hardware they have secured six times in the past - that Sticky Lombardi.
When the Steelers have played these past two games, I don't know about you all, but I've felt like we've been lucky enough to be watching something special. They certainly haven't played flawless games, but no team has, or ever will. Ups and downs are as much a part of a football game as touchdowns and field goals. What matters is weathering the storm, and making enough big plays to come out on top. And just like they've done all season, the Steelers have not ridden the emotional rollercoaster, they've ridden the monorail right over top of it.
In both previous games, they've had a legendary half, and a forgettable half. But when it has come down to it, they've made the plays necessary to ultimately triumph. The defensive stop on 4th down from inside our own 1 yard line, the completions to Antonio Brown, the turnovers, the points OFF the turnovers. These are the types of things winning football teams do.
Looking ahead, the Packers are a fantastic team, but just like us, a team that is not without vulnerability. In my opinion, this may have been the best matchup the casual NFL fan could have hoped for - two teams that play great defense and are led by clutch, multi-threat QBs who can make plays in just about any way you can think of.
So, like last week, I will have no expectations for the game except that the Steelers will go out and give it everything they've got for a full 60 minutes. And if it's enough, it'll be enough. And if not, then it won't. But either way, you know the Steelers are not going to Dallas to see the sights. They're going to hit some people in the mouth for four quarters, in the hopes of bringing an oblong shaped piece of metal with a football on top back to the city of Pittsburgh for the third time in six years.
But getting back to the AFC Championship game, at one point when the Steelers were up 24-0 in the first half, I was so fired up I couldn't sit down or stop waving my towel. And it wasn't just one aspect - defense or offense or what have you - it was the whole tenor of the game. The Jets came in so confident that this was their year. They knew they were a good football team, but I think it's pretty safe to say they may have underestimated the Steelers just like everyone else (at least their fans and media did, we know that much).
In fact, I think this excerpt from the Washington Post's (of all outlets) recap of this game captures it perfectly - "The Jets were a team of big mouths, playing on big emotions summoned by their roaring Coach Rex Ryan. But they were finally met by something bigger, a great surging team in the Steelers. Everything about the Steelers seemed huge, from their Mountain Man of a quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, to Troy Polamalu's massive flying wedge of hair, to the way they physically overwhelmed the Jets at every important turning point in the game. When the clock finally ran out the Jets stood on their sideline, sullen and still. Ryan issued a curt, wordless handshake to Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin and trudged into the tunnel, leaving all the big words and emotion behind him on the field, where Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor was sailing around with his arms open, imitating a Jet doing a crash landing."
Couldn't have said it any better myself...literally.
There were so many crazy/awesome things that happened on Sunday night, I could write three recaps if I really wanted to...
Multiple batted passes by defensive linemen (including Big Snack) and LaMarr Woodley, Ike Taylor forcing a fumble (and Willie Gay running it back...but not surprisingly, we'll get to that more under "Things That Were Awesome"), Ziggy Hood hustling upfield to bring down Shonn Greene after a 23 (!) yard gain, getting a roughing the Punter penalty to get a new set of downs, Ben's last name had been partially ripped from the back of his jersey at one point, and of course, who could forget Antonio Brown coming through with another dagger?
Dude, it was minus four degrees with the wind chill at some point!!
[sidebar - feel free to caption this image in the comments...I feel like it really needs one]
Just like last week - another unbelievable atmostphere...
...another unbelievable game.
There's really nothing else you need to say about it.
And so now we get to have some real fun...now, we get to watch the Steelers compete for the Lombardi trophy - the thing some teams fans have never even been fortunate enough to hoist once, let alone six times.
I'm not even going to say something like "if you aren't fired up about this, then...," because if you're not fired up about this, you're not a Steeler fan...and probably not even a football fan.
So, we'll get back to thinking about the Packers and the big game at some point in the next week and a half, but for now, let's just get to the heart of the matter - the "Things That Were Awesome," "Things That Were NOT Awesome," and "Things That Made Me Feel Dirtier Than Knowing Rex Ryan Likes Feet" about the AFC Championship game.
As usual, I implore you to consume them at your leisure and add your own thoughts/enthusiasm/WOOOOOOs in the comments.
Now, time to deliver the miracle like Joe Flacco (or something like that)...
Jump in and let's do some W, here!
Things That Were Awesome:
1. The Big-Timer/Punisher/Wrecking Ball
121 yards rushing and 32 yards receiving, against the league's 3rd overall ranked defense.
We covered this on Monday, but Rashard Mendenhall made Sunday's game (and, the Jets d) his bitch.
Just like he did to Big Ben after the game...
2. Bill Gay's Fumble Return
Nothing like a defensive touchdown to get the crowd even more into it...
Probably the highlight of Gay's career thus far.
Willie Gay, man.
3. The Opening Drive
When was the last time you saw the Steelers execute a 9-minute touchdown scoring drive?
Don't worry, you can get back to me on that.
4. Lawrence Timmons
I just want to point out that both last week and this week, Timmons has quietly led the team in tackles.
With all the playmakers on the Steelers defense, it's easy to overlook contributions like his...but not that easy.
That's 19 tackles in two playoff games for Lawrence this postseason.
The Jets fought The Law and The Law won.
5. Goal Line Stand
This shit stopped an eight minute, six second drive for absolutely zero points.
You're God damn right, it did!
5a. Mark Sanchez Digging For Gold
Being honest, he actually played an alright game overall, though obviously he didn't make enough of the big plays to complete the comeback.
But sooner or later, the Jets are going to have to realize that they're coddling this kid.
Things That Were NOT Awesome:
1. Kicking the Ball Out-of-Bounds
Good thing our defense wasn't about to give up a yard in the first half (at least the first 29 minutes or so of it, during which this happened).
Seriously, how often do NFL kickers kick the ball out of bounds on a kickoff?
But hey, I'll take that over a missed field goal every day of the week (not that Sweezy even had many chances to do that).
2. Ben's Pick
The second one, that is.
2nd down on the Jets 37, in the middle of a four and a half minute drive, headed toward points...and then, nada.
But again, see the first line under item #1.
3. Sacked on 3rd and 20
But then, I guess the same could be said of being sacked on 1st and 10 two plays before that.
Especially when the Steelers had advanced the ball to the Jets 42 before that series and the resulting punt.
4. Santonio's TD
Personally, I still love Santonio, regardless of what color uniform he wears.
But that doesn't mean I want to see him put the ball in the end zone against us.
Just to remind 'Tone of what he could be missing out on...
By the way - you're welcome, New York.
5. Dustin Keller
8 catches for 64 yards, to lead all Jets in both categories.
Last week, Todd Heap caught 3 balls for 43 yards and a score.
Earlier in the season, Pats TE Rob Gronkowski scored like 8 TDs on our defense.
If you're starting to see a pattern here - congratulations, you're probably not retarded.
Things That Made Me Feel Dirtier Than Knowing Rex Ryan Likes Feet:
1. Pouncey Down
GOD DAMMIT IM SICK OF THIS SHIT WHY CANT WE GO ONE GOD DAMN GAME WITHOUT LOSING AN OFFENSIVE LINEMAN TO SOME TYPE OF INJURY OR ANOTHER?!?!?!?!?!
Seriously, I mean it, you guys.
I don't know what happened (though I hear Ben muffed the snap), and I don't care.
If you weren't throwing shit around your living room in a fit of rage, I want some of what you were smoking.
3. The Jets Converting TWO 4th Downs
Am I honestly going to complain about the results of the first two 4th down situations when we held them to not even a ham sandwich on the third one at our goal line?
Hell no, dude.
4. The Jets' 19 Unanswered Points
Blah blah blah, I had to replenish gallons of sweat after the game...
Luckily, I had plenty of light beer on hand.
5. The Jets Scoring At All
The Steelers really should've shut them out.
Season's over...what a disappointment...
...I hope you speak sarcasm.
And finally, of course, what would an AFC Championship be without the corresponding episode of Yinz Luv Da Stillers?
Jim did superior work, as always.
Other awesome visual stimulation that I didn't get to include above...
So, now, we keep looking forward, with our eyes on the ultimate prize.
IE - like I've said all season, it's...
Until then, feel free to get the discussion started in the comments.
What would Mike Tomlin do?
SUPER BOWL, PEOPLE!!
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