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Jets can't let Big Ben Roethlisberger have time

Here's what New York has to do to beat the Steelers in the AFC championship game.

January 20, 2011|By Sam Farmer
  • Stopping Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be the New York Jets' top priority Sunday in the AFC championship game.
Stopping Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be… (Tom E. Puskar / Associated…)

What the New York Jets need to do to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Sunday's AFC championship game (3:30 p.m. PST; Channel 2):

Make Big Ben a pocket watch

The Jets typically mix in a lot of overload blitzes, in which they rush extra defensive players from the right or left side. Because they're usually better off trying to contain Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the pocket, rather letting him roll one direction and extend the play, they're likely to have a more symmetrical rush that doesn't favor one side.

Don't get 86'd

When it comes to clutch receivers, it's hard to top No. 86, Pittsburgh's Hines Ward. He's far from the fastest guy on the field, but his incredible instincts and savvy allow him to create separation from a defender. Watch for the Jets to put their best corner, Darrelle Revis, on him, even though Ward typically lines up in the slot.

Play Mike Wallace for 60 minutes

Mike Wallace, the second-year Steelers burner, might be the most dangerous deep threat in the game. The Jets lined up Antonio Cromartie on him when they played at Pittsburgh in Week 16, and Wallace made seven catches for 102 yards. Cromartie has been susceptible to getting burned on the long ball (or drawing a pass-interference flag), so the Jets have to be extra careful.

Build a wall

Even though they won in Pittsburgh last month, the Jets did an uncharacteristically poor job of stopping the run. New York came into that game with the third-ranked rushing defense, yet allowed Rashard Mendenhall to gain 100 yards in 17 carries — only his second 100-yard performance in 11 games.

Think fast

The Jets will take a few deep shots, yet for the most part they want to get the ball out of Mark Sanchez's hands quickly. Expect lots of short and intermediate throws over the middle. Santonio Holmes is good on those because he's so dangerous after the catch. (Remember how he turned that quick slant in overtime at Cleveland into a 37-yard game-winner?) And the Jets might look to get sure-handed tight end Dustin Keller more involved. He had five touchdowns in the first four games, and hasn't scored one since.

Oh, them again?

Neither Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu nor tight end Heath Miller played in the first game against the Jets. That changed the landscape on both sides of the ball. Things will look different this time.

Next: Pittsburgh Steelers

sam.farmer@latimes.com

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