To steal a phrase from Rex Ryan… same old Steelers.
While Ryan and his New York Jets have set their status quo at just making the AFC title game, the Pittsburgh Steelers status quo is winning it. Lets just say that they follow through on that more times than not.
The Steelers defeated the Jets 24-19 to move on to their 8th Super Bowl, tied for the most appearances ever with the Dallas Cowboys. They did so in the way that the Steelers always do things, run the football and hit you in the mouth.
They jumped on the Jets from the get go with a 15 play, 66 yard drive that was capped off by Rashard Mendenhall who was a horse in the early going. The nearly nine minute drive set the tone for the Steelers who dominated the first 30 minutes of play. Despite an early Ben Roethlisberger interception the offense was a well-oiled machine. Mendenhall led a rushing attack that went for 131 yards in the first half, 95 from him and had the Jets defense gasping for air.
Even without star rookie center Mike Pouncey the Steelers controlled the line of scrimmage and outgained the Jets 210-55.
Defensively… well… it was the Steelers come on what do you expect? They held the Jets to three 3 & out and shut down any glimmer of a run game that the Jets thought that they had. They shut down former pal Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards and created 6 points for themselves thanks to an Ike Taylor sack and forced fumble that William Gay scooped up and ran in to give them a 24-0 lead. Total dominance.
It was so dominant that the Steelers sort of checked out of the game in the third quarter and gave the Jets life. After a field goal late in the half the Jets showed signs by cutting the lead to 24-10 on a Sanchez to Holmes connection. It lasted until midway through the fourth quarter where the Steelers showed their muscle and held for a goal line stand to eventually end Jets chances.
The Steelers now head to Dallas with a chance to add to their record number of Super Bowls (6) and for a little bit more.
This is now the era of the black & gold (or black & yellow thanks to Wiz Khalifa). The Steelers have moved past the Patriots for the title of the Superior franchise in the new millennium and past the Cowboys as the NFL’s number one franchise.
A win in Dallas at Super Bowl 45 would further cement their legacy and move them to a higher plateau on the NFL legends tower leaving the 49ers and Cowboys in a cloud of dust.
For Ben Roethlisberger another ring would equal him with Tom Brady and would give him a claim to the decades best quarterback. Despite his high profile off the field issues Roethlisberger is one of the game’s elite quarterbacks and has a chance to equal Brady in championships before the age of 30. It would put him in the rare company as being one of a handful of QB’s with three titles (Montana, Bradshaw, Aikman and Brady). Not bad for a guy who at the beginning of the year didn’t know when he was going to get on the field.
For coach Mike Tomlin it would put him in a class all by himself as well.
He would be the only coach to win two Super Bowls before the age of 40 and you could make a case that he could be the Steelers best coach in their history.
Tomlin is one of only 3 coaches whom the Steelers have hired in the last 41 years (Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher and Tomlin), yet his rate of success has been much higher than his two compatriots.
Tomlin won his first Super Bowl in his second year on the job; it took Noll 6 years and Cowher 14. Tomlin has six postseason wins through 3+ years when it took Cowher 11 years to reach that total and Noll 7 years. What Tomlin has done is take the Steelers brand of football and made it better. In the process he can put himself in a class all by his lonesome as the league’s number one coach elevating past Bill Belichick.
This is what the Steelers are and have been for the last 40 years. They are a model of consistency who just keep on winning no matter if Dennis Dixon is under center, an unproven Mike Wallace is their number one receiver or their head coach was non-existent when Noll lead the Steelers to their first playoff win in 1972.
They do it with little flash and lots of hard work, resembling the town in which they play. The end result is a franchise that teams like the Jets strive to be like at the end of the day, because while the Jets reached their level of normalcy, the Steelers are only at a level beneath what they’re used to.
Dallas, Texas in two weeks on the game’s biggest stage with the Vince Lombardi trophy hanging in the balance and the Steelers will be right there. Just like its always been, same old Steelers.