With the Super Bowl in the balance, the Jets’ defense needed one more stop. And they couldn’t get it.
Instead, Ben Roethlisberger completed a 14-yard pass to Antonio Brown on third-and-6 after the two-minute warning to clinch the Steelers’ 24-19 AFC Championship Game victory, sending the Steelers back to the Super Bowl.
That was one of the few big plays on the day for Roethlisberger, who completed just 10 of 19 passes for 133 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions. But after stagnating for the entire second half, Roethlisberger did just enough in the final minutes to keep the Jets’ offense off the field.
If the Jets’ offense had gotten on the field, it might have completed one of the great comebacks in NFL history. After falling behind 24-0 in the second quarter, the Jets got a field goal just before halftime to make the score 24-3. Early in the third quarter Mark Sanchez hit Santonio Holmes for a 45-yard touchdown to make the score 24-10, and after Roethlisberger recovered a fumbled snap in the end zone, it was 24-12. Sanchez then hit Jerricho Cotchery for a four-yard touchdown to make the score 24-19, and the Jets had to think that if they could just get the ball once more, they could complete the comeback.
But when the Jets decided to kick it deep rather than onside kick, all it took for the Steelers was two first downs — one on a Roethlisberger pass to Heath Miller and one on Roethlisberger’s pass to Brown — to run out the clock and seal the win.
In the first half it looked like running out the clock would be easy for Pittsburgh. Rashard Mendenhall was running wild, the defense was completely shutting down the Jets’ running game, and by midway through the second quarter, it looked like the rout was on.
Instead, the Jets made it a competitive game down to the final minute. And the final minute was when Roethlisberger finally made the play to send the Steelers to the Super Bowl.