NEW YORK JETS (13-5) AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS (13-4)
TV: CBS (6:30 PM ET): Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
Where: Heinz Field
Odds: Pittsburgh -4
Pre-Game Buzz: What to Watch For
5:05 p.m. – Steelers inactives
Cornerback Bryant McFadden is active for the Steelers. Special teamer Will Allen was optimistic of playing but is inactive. No other surprises among the group….. Here are the Steelers inactives…
Aaron Smith, Will Allen, Jonathan Dwyer, Tony Hills, Chris Scott, Crezdon Butler, Charlie Batch (3rd QB).
From Earlier —
A few pre-game notes as kickoff is about four hours away—
1. Bryant McFadden: On the injury front, all eyes are going to be on starting left cornerback Bryant McFadden. The sense is McFadden will be active but there are a lot of doubts that he will be able to get through the game. He wasn’t able to practice fully this week and is not even close to 100 percent.
If McFadden is not active or unable to play much, William Gay will start and Anthony Madison will move into the nickle. – Advantage Jets.
2. Revis Matchup: WR Mike Wallace had 7 catches for 102 yards (14.6 average) vs. Jets in Week 15, as the Jets matched Antonio Cromartie against Wallace in week 15.
There’s been a lot of talk of whether Revis will get the “Wallace” matchup tonight. The Steelers believe a Wallace – Revis matchup is advantage Pittsburgh and the sense is Revis will be matched up against Ward again and will end shadow Emmanuel Sanders in three receiver sets.
3. Special Teams: A lot of focus for the Steelers this has been on suring up their coverage units as the Jets burned them in that area in week 15. The Steelers have regressed in the kick return game of late.
As for personnel, the team figures to get a boost on their coverage units from linebacker Jason Worilds (recovering from knee injury) who ran with the 1st team all week and is expected to be active. However, If McFadden is inactive, it will lead to the Steelers possibly being forced to dress Crezdon Butler and sit down a special teamer.
4. Jets to spread Steelers out?: The vibe out of the Steelers locker room is that they don’t believe Mark Sanchez can beat them and they want to make the Jets one dimensional.
The expectation is that the Jets will look to establish the run which is how they’re built offensively but don’t be surprised if they come and try to spread the Steelers out.
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer hinted this week at the possibility when talking about how to beat the Steelers defense.
5. One of the key matchups tonight will be Jets LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson vs. Pittsburgh ROLB James Harrison. The Steelers had just one sack against the Jets in week 15.
Harrison is coming off a three sack performance and dominant game against Baltimore’s Michael Oher.
6. Miller/Polamalu Factor: Two big differences from the week 15 matchup will be the presence of Heath Miller on the offensive side of the ball and Troy Polamalu on defense. Those two in the game changes the whole dynamic tonight..
Miller has 24 receptions for 280 yards and 3 touchdowns in his past 5 playoff games.
7. Will Holmes burn the Steelers? A nightmare situation for the Steelers will be Santonio Holmes burning the Steelers and leading the Jets to the Super Bowl with a big play down the stretch.
When Pittsburgh scrambled and traded Holmes for just a 5th round pick last April after they received word that he was going to be suspended, the Steelers knew the Jets were going to be a contender and the possibility could arise where he came back to haunt them.
With Pittsburgh and now the Jets, Holmes has been one of the top post-season game changers.
Holmes who was the Super Bowl XLIII MVP with Pittsburgh (9 receptions-131 yards with game winning TD), has won five consecutive post-season games.
Inside the Numbers
JETS: Marks 1st time team has reached AFC Championship Game in consecutive seasons. Jets are 1st team in NFL history to win at least 2 road playoff games in back-to-back seasons
Head coach REX RYAN’s 4 playoff wins & .800 win pct. (4-1) rank 1st among Jets all-time coaches…QB MARK SANCHEZ has 4 postseason road wins, tied for NFL record among starting QBs. With 127.3 passer rating vs. NE, Sanchez owns 2 of top 4 marks in club postseason history (139.4 on 1/9/10 at Cin.) & is only Jets QB w/ 100+ passer rating in multiple road playoff games (min. 15 att.)…
Jets are 4-0 when posting 100+ rush yards under Ryan. Club has 6 rush TDs in past 5 playoff contests…Incl. last week (76 rush yards, 1 TD), RB SHONN GREENE has registered at least 75 rush yards with 1 TD in 3 postseason games & Jets are 3-0 in such contests. RB LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON posted 1st postseason receiving TD (7 yards) of career vs. Patriots. Tomlinson’s 7 postseason TDs (6 rushing, 1 receiving) rank 1st among active RBs…
WR SANTONIO HOLMES has won 5 consecutive postseason games, including MVP performance (9 receptions for 131 yards with game-winning TD) in Super Bowl XLIII with Steelers. Has 4 receiving TDs in 6 career playoff games. 10 of WR BRAYLON EDWARDS’ 12 career postseason rec. (83.3 pct.) have been for 1st downs. Posted 8 receptions for 100 yards in Week 15 win at Pit. WR JERRICHO COTCHERY had 5 receptions for 96 yards vs. NE. Caught five passes for 102 yards (20.4 average) in last season’s AFC Championship Game…
Defense registered 5 sacks last week, most by Jets in postseason since 1985…LB CALVIN PACE recorded sack in each of past 2 postseason games. DE SHAUN ELLIS’ two sacks last week tie Jets postseason record. LB DAVID HARRIS led team w/ 9 tackles & registered 3rd career (1st postseason) INT vs. Patriots…
In Week 15 at Pit., KR-PR-WR BRAD SMITH totaled 140 yards on three kickoff returns (46.7 average), including a 97-yard TD. KR-CB ANTONIO CROMARTIE averages 31.8 yards per kickoff return (191 yards on 6 kickoff returns) in 2010 postseason…
Jets had 3 players selected to 2011 Pro Bowl (T D’BRICKASHAW FERGUSON, C NICK MANGOLD, CB DARELLE REVIS).
STEELERS: Host 11th Conference Championship Game, most among all teams since 1970. Clubs’ .627 postseason win pct. (32-19) ranks 1st in AFC (2nd NFL, Green Bay .628). With win, Pittsburgh can tie Cowboys for most postseason wins (33) & Super Bowl appearances (8)…
MIKE TOMLIN can become 2nd head coach (JOE GIBBS) to reach 2 Super Bowls in 1st 4 seasons. Is 27-9 (incl. 3-1 in postseason) all-time at Heinz Field. Has won 4 consecutive postseason games…QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER is 38-12 (.760) at home in regular season & 4-2 at Heinz Field in postseason. Is 2-1 in AFC Championship Games & has passed for 756 yards w/ 5 TDs for 93.0 passer rating…
RB RASHARD MENDENHALL (46 rush yards, 2 rush TDs) joined JEROME BETTIS & AMOS ZEREOUE as only Steelers RBs to rush for 2 TDs in player’s 1st postseason game. Rushed for 99 yards with 1 TD vs. Jets in regular season…WR HINES WARD has 4 100-yard receiving games at home in postseason during his career. Has 19 receptions for 287 yards (71.8 per game) & 2 TDs in AFC Championship Games. Posted reception in 15 consecutive playoff games & can surpass HOFer JOHN STALLWORTH (15) for most consecutive playoff games with at least one catch.
WR MIKE WALLACE had 7 catches for 102 yards (14.6 average) vs. Jets in Week 15. Averaged an AFC-best 21.0 yards per catch in 2010 reg. season…
Pit. has not allowed 100-yard rusher in 15 consecutive postseason games, tied w/ Bal. for 2nd-longest current streak (Redskins, 17). Did not allow 100-yard rusher in regular season…
Steelers defense vs. Bal. allowed only 28 net yards in 2nd-half, 4th-lowest 2nd-half total in NFL postseason game since 1970…
Pro Bowl LB JAMES HARRISON last week registered 3 sacks, tied for 2nd-most in franchise postseason history. LB LA MARR WOODLEY needs 1 sack to become 10th player w/ 10 postseason sacks since 1982…
CB IKE TAYLOR & Pro Bowl S TROY POLAMALU each have 3 career postseason INTs.
Source: NFL and Coldhardfootballfacts.com