Steelers See Themselves In Jets

When they face the Jets on Sunday, the Steelers see a team very much like themselves.

The Steelers on Sunday might see themselves in the mirror when the New York Jets take Heinz Field in the AFC Championship Game, a flashback for them to 2005.

Pittsburgh became the first sixth seed to win two playoff games on the road, then the AFC Championship Game on the road and then the Super Bowl. They did it with a second-year quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, a year after they lost in the championship game with him as their rookie quarterback.

Mark Sanchez, the Jets' second-year quarterback, guided them to the AFC Championship Game last year and lost. The Jets, the sixth seed in the AFC, have won two in a row and Sunday could make it three as they look to follow in the '05 Steelers' footsteps.

"It's really hard," Roethlisberger said of the literal road to the Super Bowl he and his teammates blazed in 2005. "You want to do everything you can to play at home because you have the comfort of your fans, the stadium, the locker room. That's the hardest part, not necessarily where teams are seeded, it's not about seed, it's about where you play, home or on the road."

Roethlisberger said Sanchez has some of the advantages that he had when he went through the process in 2005 - a great defense and talent around him on offense, so that all the pressure wasn't piled on the quarterback.

"He had a lot of what I did, too," Roethlisberger said. "It's nice when they don't talk about you because they talk about your defense and how good they are and the players.

"So it's kind of a nice thing you can fly under the radar a little bit. With him being in New York it's a little bit harder to do that, but every week you watch him he's getting better. He takes the criticism that everyone seems to be giving him for some reason and just kind of seems to brush it off and move on and play better every week."

Compared to the Jets, Pittsburgh has been here before - and before that and before that and ... The Steelers are trying to reach their eighth Super Bowl and capture their seventh Lombardi Trophy. The Jets won Super Bowl III in 1969 and never made it back.

Linebacker Farrior, 35, has earned two Super Bowl rings with the Steelers and said not only does it not get old, the more you get, the more you want.

"It doesn't change; the goal every year is to win the championship. This year is no different. Even though we have two under our belt, most of the guys around here, we've got guys on this team who had never even played in a playoff game. I know those guys are hungry. I know everybody is ready to go get another one. It is the same feeling with any other championship game."

SERIES HISTORY: 2nd meeting in the postseason. Steelers won that game in overtime 20-17 at Heinz Field after the 2004 season. The Steelers lead the regular-season series that began in 1970 16-4 but New York has won the past two, including a 22-17 win at Heinz Field on Dec. 19. That was the Jets' first win in Pittsburgh after going 0-for-7, counting their playoff loss.

News & Notes

-- QB Ben Roethlisberger has a 9-2 record in the postseason and is 2-1 in three previous AFC Championship Games.

-- WR Hines Ward can set the Steelers postseason record with a catch on Sunday. He and John Stallworth caught passes in 15 straight postseason games.

-- TE Heath Miller has experienced almost nothing but success in the postseason. Since he was drafted in 2005, the Steelers have won eight of nine postseason games.

-- DE Brett Keisel, added to the Pro Bowl roster for the first time last week, had one of three interception returns for touchdowns this season by the Steelers and the longest - 79 yards vs. Tampa.

-- CB Anthony Madison, who had an interception and a sack in the final regular-season game, moves up to nickel cornerback if Bryant McFadden cannot play.

GAME PLAN: The Steelers hope to run against the Jets, which they did reasonably well on Dec. 19 when they rushed for 146 yards. However, they are not bashful putting the ball in Ben Roethlisberger's hands and will do so on Sunday. On defense, they will most surely be on the lookout for the short passes and screens to LaDainian Tomlinson. Nobody's been able to run against them this season but the Jets did produce in that game 106 yards, more than anyone on the Steelers.


DE Aaron Smith (triceps) will practice this week for the first time since his injury Oct. 24, but he is unlikely to play. Ziggy Hood will start again. ... CB Bryant McFadden (abdominal) may not play. William Gay would replace him on the left. ... S Will Allen (knee), among the team's veteran special teams players, likely won't suit up. Rookie CB/S Crezdon Butler would replace him.

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