Somewhat surprisingly, this game was similar to the first one. In both championships, one team dominated throughout, yet had to fight off a vicious comeback in the second half. And in both games, the team that played the full 60 minutes won. In this game, it was the Pittsburgh Steelers, punching yet another ticket to their 8th Super Bowl. But NOT with style. Who knew the Steelers could win with Ben Roethlisberger finishing the game with a 35.5 passer rating (2 ints, 0 TDs) while Mark Sanchez earning a 102.2 passer rating (o ints, 2 TDs)? I guess it’s true that defense does, in fact, win championships. In a semi-low scoring game, it came down to the stops and turnovers. Although the Steelers turned the ball over twice as opposed to the Jets’ 1 turnover, the Pittsburgh defense shut down the Jets offense in the first half, allowing only 3 points. It didn’t help that the Jets defense didn’t have an answer for Rashard Mendenhall until the 2nd half. Too little, too late, Jets. Just like in the NFC, the better team won.
Looking Ahead: Will the Steelers officially end all debate as to which franchise tops all others? With a seventh Super Bowl victory, there is no doubt in my mind that the Steelers’ franchise will have set the bar for all other franchises. But it won’t come easy. The Steelers have to face a solid NFC opponent that is simply on a tear right now, led by elite QB Aaron Rodgers. No team has come up with an answer for this star since November. I couldn’t think of a more worthy opponent to truly gauge the Steelers dominance.
MVP: RB Rashard Mendenhall; With all the speculation before the game highlighting Big Ben and the Pittsburgh defense, it seemed no one talked about the guy who ended up making the biggest difference. Mendenhall, being held under 100 yards since November, came up big when it mattered. The blocking was great, yes, but this guy made things happen for himself. Just watching him you could see he wanted every single one of the 121 yards he earned. Breaking tackles and fighting for the next yard every play, he was the face of the first drive which set the tone for ensuing drives. I can’t wait to see how he does in the Super Bowl.