The Pittsburgh Steelers will head to their third Super Bowl in six years after claiming a 24-19 victory over the New York Jets in the AFC Championship on Jan. 23 at Heinz Field.
Steelers’ running back Rashard Mendenhall rushed for a game-high 121 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries, while star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger neutralized a couple of interceptions with a rushing touchdown and a few big pass completions to keep the chains moving late in the game.
Pittsburgh’s defense also produced big plays, including a 22-yard defensive touchdown score by cornerback William Gay, who scooped up a fumble forced by fellow Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor.
“We overcame a lot more obstacles this year than we have in the past,” said Steelers star safety Troy Polamalu, who led Pitt’s secondary with four tackles despite playing injured. “But we still got one more to go.”
The Steelers will now head to Dallas to face the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV (45). With a win, Pittsburgh will capture its seventh Super Bowl title, a league best.
Meanwhile, New York will retire their season in the conference championship for a second straight year, a disappointment for Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan who envisioned his team in the Super Bowl.
Ryan said his team simply didn’t do good enough of a job to win. “We played a good half. We never played a good game, and that was the difference,” Ryan said in a postgame interview with CBS. “You get to this point, you’ve got to play a great game against a great opponent, and we played a good half and that was it.”