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Live blog: Jets vs. Steelers, AFC Championship

Jets coach Rex Ryan, center, reacts near the

Jets coach Rex Ryan, center, reacts near the end of his team's 28-21 win over the Patriots in an AFC Divisional playoff game in Foxborough, Mass. (Jan. 16, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

Follow along as we update you on the Jets-Steelers AFC Championship game.

That's the end of game, as the Jets lose in the AFC Championship for the second straight season — this time in Pittsburgh, 24-19. The Steelers will play Green Bay in Super Bowl XLV two weeks from tonight in Cowboy Stadium.

Jets: 13-6 (8-3 road)

Steelers: 14-4 (7-3 home).

Scores by quarter for the Jets: 0, 3, 7, 9

Scores by quarter for the Steelers: 7, 17, 0, 0

Here are your three stars for tonight's game:

1. Mendenhall: 27 carries, 121 yards, TD; 2 catches, 32 yards.

2. Roethlisberger: 10-for-19 for 133 yards, INT; 11 carries, 21 yards, TD.

3. Ike Taylor: four tackles, sack, forced fumble that led to William Gay's 19-yard touchdown that made it 24-0.

*The Steelers had a 34:41-25:19 advantage in time of possession (much of that coming in the first half), but the Jets had a slim 289-287 advantage in total yards (much of that coming in the second half.

Here are tonight's final stats... 

Jets

Sanchez: 20-for-33 for 233 yards, two TDs; 3 carries, 6 yards, lost fumble

Greene: 9 carries, 52 yards

Tomlinson: 9 carries, 16 yards

Cotchery: 5 catches, 33 yards, TD; 1 carry, -4 yards

Keller: 8 catches, 64 yards

Holmes: 2 carries, 61 yards, TD

Edwards: 3 catches, 50 yards

Smith: 2 catches, 25 yards

Folk: 1-for-1 on FGs; 2-for-2 on XPs

Weatherford: 4 punts, 34.0-yard average

Thomas/Pool: INT each

Pace/Pryce: sack each

Steelers

Redman: 4 carries, 27 yards

Moore: 1 carry, -3 yards; 1 catch, 9 yards

Miller: 2 catches, 38 yards

Sanders: 1 catch, 20 yards

Brown: 1 catch, 14 yards (*the catch that iced the game)

Ward: 2 catches, 14 yards

Wallace: 1 catch, 6 yards

Suisham: 1-for-1 on FGs; 3-for-3 on XPs

Taylor: sack, forced fumble

Gay: fumble recovery for a TD

Woodley: sack

*The attendance at Heinz Field Stadium tonight was 66,662.

Okay, that's all for tonight's game and the 2010 season. Please check back below for updates on my pregame keys to the game. Thanks to all for coming out!

As always, it was my honor and pleasure to bring everyone all of tonight's live game action.

See ya'll back here next September.

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Good evening Jets enthusiasts! Welcome to the AFC Championship Game!

I'm Chris Mascaro and I'll be bringing you all of tonight's live game action, as the sixth-seeded Jets (13-5, 8-2 road) take on the second-seeded Pittsburgh Steelers (13-4, 6-3 home) at Heinz Field in western Pennsylvania with a trip to Super Bowl XLV on the line.

The Jets couldn't wait to get back here after last year's heartbreak. But now that they're here, have they gone soft on us?

Seemingly the entire city is behind Gang Green as they attempt to reach their first Super Bowl since this man was once a sex symbol. Yes, every man, woman and child (of many different ethnic groups), has gotten on the J-E-T-S bandwagon — well, not really. Though there is plenty of excitement in the air.

And why not? There's reason for Jets fans to be excited after playoff victories on the road against quarterback deities Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

Yet while many fans refer to Green Bay as Title Town, USA, the city in which the most Lombardi Trophies reside is the Steel City. As colleague Erik Boland so astutely put it after Pittsburgh's win in Super Bowl XLIII: "The Iron City has its six pack of Lombardis."

Luckily for the Jets, the trophies won't be suiting up tonight.

Regardless, getting past Pittsburgh won't be easy.

I can go on and on talk about the past — yes, the Jets won in Pittsburgh, 22-17, in Week 14 — or how each team got to this point

But to be honest, I'm just fired up that it's finally game time. So enough waxing poetic about the glory days. Let's talk about how the latest chapter of NFL history will be written.

Here are tonight's three keys to the game...

1. Clock Big Ben. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 6-5, 241 pounds, so taking him down isn't easy. The Jets sacked Brady five times last week, but they didn't blitz much. When the Jets got to Brady it was because the coverage down the field was so tight. So what does that mean for tonight? Well, two guys must come up with big games — Calvin Pace and Jason Taylor, who are the Jets' best pass rushers. Taylor made the biggest play in the regular-season win over the Steelers when he tackled Mewelde Moore in the end zone for a safety to give the Jets a 22-17 fourth-quarter lead. The Jets may need a similar play to win tonight.

*Pace got a sack, as did Trevor Pryce, but had countless pressures on Big Ben and couldn't bring him down. Roethlisberger ran for a bunch of crucial first downs and also scored a rushing touchdown. His numbers weren't spectacular, but he did what he needed to do to win the game. Interestingly enough, the Jets got another safety — it was just too little, too late.

2. Don't get in any hairy situations. You could argue Mark Sanchez played his best game of his pro career last week against New England. He completed 64 percent of his passes for 194 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, and a season-high passer rating of 127.3. That being said, he's still 24 years old. Sure, he's already played five postseason games (all on the road), but he has a tendency to play too fast, which sometimes makes his passes sail.

While I do think the Jets need to take a couple of shots deep down the field to Santonio Holmes and/or Braylon Edwards, Sanchez needs to make sure Troy Polamalu (seven INTs) doesn't get his paws on the ball (he missed the teams' regular-season matchup with an Achilles injury). And the Jets' offensive line needs to make sure James Harrison (10.5 sacks) and LaMarr Woodley (10 sacks) don't get their hands on Sanchez.

*Sanchez played very well, especially in the second half, but it was the one play when Taylor got to him on a blitz that you could argue won Pittsburgh the game. Sanchez played poised, but Taylor/Gay made a great play to make it a 24-0 game.

3. New sheriff in town? In the last seven years, only three teams have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl — the Pats (three times), the Colts and the Steelers (twice each). Will that streak extend to eight seasons?

Well, the Steelers are 5-5 in AFC Championship games at home, but their last postseason loss in Pittsburgh was a 31-29 decision to Jacksonville in the 2007 Wild Card round (they have played three home playoff games since). The Jets' last 10 playoff games have come on the road.

The only time these two teams met in the playoffs was in 2005, when the Jets lost 20-17 in overtime — a game you Jets fans surely remember.

*Same old in the AFC. The Steelers joined the Pats with three Super Bowl appearances in the last eight years. Does that mean it's Indy's turn next year? That's a story for another day.

Here is the weather report from Pittsburgh, where it's clear, but very cold (temperatures are in the teens). There is a slight breeze, but nothing that should affect the game.

Here are today's inactives, courtesy of our Jets beat writer Mr. Rod Boone, who is at Heinz Field. Brad Smith returns after missing last week with a groin injury. He will handle the kick return duties in his return. Steelers tight end Heath Miller, who missed the regular-season game against the Jets with a concussion, will play today.

Here's how our folks at Newsday think tonight's game will shape up — they sure have a lot of confidence in the Jets. Shockingly, Rex Ryan's famous dad, Buddy, picked his son's team to win (just kidding). Our fine folks also decided who's city is better?

Finally, here are some notes on tonight's game...

-The Jets' 22-17 win over the Steelers in Week 15 was their first win in Pittsburgh after going 0-7 there since the 1970 merger. For the 2010 Jets, it was only their second regular-season opponent that made the playoffs (the Week 2 win over New England was the other).

-The only one of the Jets' five losses to come against a non-playoff team was a 10-6 decision against Miami in Week 14.

-Since a Week 10 loss to New England, the Steelers have won seven of their last eight games with the lone loss coming to the Jets in Week 15. 

-During the regular season, the Jets were seventh in the AFC in points scored with 367. They allowed 304 points, which was tops in the AFC East and third best in the conference (behind Pittsburgh and Baltimore). In the postseason, they've scored 45 and allowed 37.

-The Steelers scored 375 points in the regular season, which was the best in the AFC North and sixth best in the conference. They allowed an NFL-low 232 points.

-The Steelers were second in the league in turnover margin this season at +17 (18 giveaways, 35 takeaways). The Jets were tied for fifth with the Bucs at +9 (21 giveaways, 30 takeaways).

-Roethlisberger is a big reason for the spectacular turnover margin. In his 13 games, he's only thrown five interceptions — only one has come since the Week 10 loss to New England.

-Big Ben has completed 61.5 percent of his 421 passes this season for 3,426 yards. The 28-year old, a seven-year veteran out of Miami (Ohio), is averaging 8.13 yards per attempt. He has thrown 19 touchdowns and five interceptions, and his 97.0 passer rating during the regular season was fifth best in the league.

-Rashard Mendenhall, the Steelers' starting running back, was the seventh leading rusher in the league with 1,273 yards (he also scored 13 rushing touchdowns). However, he only averaged 3.93 yards per carry. He rushed for two touchdowns last week against Baltimore, but only 46 yards on 20 carries.

-Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis will have to deal with Steelers speedster Mike Wallace, who had 1,257 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns on the regular season and really emerged as a star.

-LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene will try to ground and pound against a Steelers' defense that was the top unit against the run.

Okay, that's all for now. But we've got plenty more to talk about tonight, so keep it locked here throughout the evening!

I'll be providing all the live game updates in the chat box above!

We're about 15 minutes from football on CBS! 

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