You’d think the Steelers would feel pretty comfortable heading into Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Jets.
The No. 2 seed is coming off a 31-24 divisional-round comeback over Baltimore. And they get the Jets at Heinz Field, where the Steelers were 6-0 in the regular season against the Jets since the 1970 merger before Rex Ryan’s group nailed them 22-17 in Week 15.
But just the fact that the Jets beat them by compiling one of only two collective 100-yard rushing games against the Steelers this season tells them to beware.
LaDainian Tomlinson had 49 on 11 carries and Shonn Greene added 40 on 12 carries. Neither hit the end zone, but Mark Sanchez did when he ran in the offense’s first touchdown in 12 quarters to go along with Brad Smith’s 97-yard return of the opening kickoff.
Steelers safety Ryan Clark expects more of the same.
“I would try to run it again,” Clark said this week. “I think if you look at them too, they’re running the ball to keep other offenses off the field.”
Having safety Troy Polamalu this time — he sat injured against the Jets last month — should help, Clark said, and so should playing in front of Pittsburgh’s rabid home crowd.
Although Ryan’s team has already set an NFL record with four road playoff wins in two consecutive years, it’s hard to argue with Clark on that last point.
“I’ve never seen our crowd the way it was in the third quarter of the last game,” Clark told reporters. “I think that was big. We kept [the Ravens] down on the end deep in their own territory, and the crowd really helped us. So we’re looking for the same this week.”