After a rough first quarter for both presumptive AFC Champion offenses the Pittsburgh Steelers came alive in the second quarter, riding a fumble returned for a touchdown to a 24-3 lead at halftime. Both Mark Sanchez and Ben Roethlisberger have been contained, but an outstanding half from Rashard Mendenhall and a Sanchez fumble were all it took for the Steelers to take a 21-point lead into the half.
As a battle of high-name-recognition quarterbacks, the AFC Championship game began as mostly a bust. Roethlisberger’s vaunted playoff mojo has gone mostly to Mendenhall; Sanchez has been looked to more frequently than in the regular season, but he hasn’t been any more effective than usual.
More than anything else, the Jets have been unable to keep the ball; the Steelers’ offense, for all Roethlisberger’s inefficiencies, has rolled slowly downfield. Through three quarters the Steelers had held the ball for 31 minutes, to the Jets’ 13. It’s impressive enough that the Jets have trusted Sanchez to throw the ball more than once for every minute they’ve held onto the ball, but they don’t get any extra points for confidence.