In a first quarter marked by tough defense from both sides the Pittsburgh Steelers were first on the scoreboard, with Rashard Mendenhall barrelling through the Jets’ sixth-rated defense for a touchdown. The Pittsburgh Steelers led the AFC Championship game 7-0 through the first quarter, with the winner earning the right to face the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV.
Neither Mark Sanchez nor Ben Roethlisberger was solid in the early going. Roethlisberger threw an interception in his own territory to begin the second quarter; Sanchez was given just four pass attempts in the first quarter, with the Jets struggling to keep possession and still less than certain about their young quarterback.
The Steelers’ vaunted defense was given a lot of help by its offense in the first quarter—thanks to the running game’s ability to eat clock the Jets had just five minutes out of the first 18 on offense. Ladainian Tomlinson had two rushes for just one yard in the game’s first 20 minutes.