Behind running back Rashard Mendenhall, who rushed for a game-best 121 rushing yards on 27 carries and added a touchdown, the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the New York Jets, 24-18, Sunday in the AFC championship game. The Steelers (14-4) will play in Super Bowl XLV, Feb. 6, against NFC champion Green Bay Packers (13-6) in Dallas. For the second straight season, the Jets (13-6) lost in the AFC Title game -- last season, New York lost to the Indianapolis Colts, 30-17.
The Jets, who trailed 24-10 after three quarters, scored their only points of the fourth quarter on a safety and a four-yard TD pass from quarterback Mark Sanchez to wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery. The TD came at the end of a 10-play, 58-yard drive that ended with 3:06 to go in the game and trimmed New York's deficit to 24-19. However, after the Jets' final TD, Pittsburgh got the ball, collected two first downs and ran out the remaining time.
Sanchez went 20 of 33 for 233 yards and two second-half touchdowns. Running back Shonn Greene rushed for 52 yards on nine carries while teammate and running back LaDainian Tomlinson had 16 yards on nine carries. Tight end Dustin Keller caught eight balls for a team-best 64 receiving yards. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes had just two catches for 61 yards.
Roethlisberger finished with just 133 passing yards and two interceptions.
The Jets' safety was set up when Roethlisberger and backup center Doug Legursky couldn't connect on a snap, which caused a fumble that Roethlisberger recovered but in the end zone for a 2-point safety. The safety cut the Steelers' lead to 24-12 with 7:38 remaining.
On the Jets previous possession, which started the fourth quarter with the ball on their own 42-yard line, New York marched 89 yards on 16 plays but their drive stalled when the Steelers defense stuffed Tomlinson on a Fourth and Goal attempt from the one-yard line.