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AFC Championship Game notes

PITTSBURGH — The Jets were quiet all week.

Not much changed once the game started. By the time they made some noise, it was simply too late.

Coach Rex Ryan's big-mouthed bunch was shut down and shut up in the first half by Pittsburgh on Sunday, as the Jets' defense was dominated by Ben Roethlisberger, Rashard Mendenhall and the Super Bowl-bound Steelers 24-19.

After a loud run through the postseason that had the Jets in the AFC Championship Game for the second straight year, New York couldn't get anything until a second-half comeback fell short.

And it was because of a slow start that lacked the intensity of the Jets' first two playoff wins.

Ryan's aggressive defense was leaky from the beginning, allowing Pittsburgh gain after big gain as the Steelers jumped to a 24-0 lead that the Jets couldn't recover from.

"They made plays when they had to," Ryan said, "and that's why they're moving on."

Ryan said all season he thought his team would win the Super Bowl, boldly scribbling "Soon To Be Champs" on an ESPN bus during training camp. On Friday, he reiterated that he wanted to see green and white confetti, wanted the celebratory hats and T-shirts and to raise the trophy as AFC champions.

It wasn't to be. Again.

Two trips to the AFC title game, and two disappointing walks off the field by Ryan and the Jets. New York lost at Indianapolis last season.

"I would change the outcome of this game and that's the only thing I would change," Ryan said. "We don't need to apologize to anybody. We'll be back, you'll see."

POUNCEY INJURY: Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey left in the first quarter with a high left ankle sprain.

Pouncey, a former Florida standout, was helped off after Jets LB Bryan Thomas got pushed back into the rookie center. Thomas rolled over the back of Pouncey's leg on a 7-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Hines Ward to the New York 1.

Pouncey was replaced by Doug Legursky; there were two fumbles on exchanges between Legursky and Roethlisberger.

INSPIRING CAPTAINS: A week after the Jets carried his jersey to midfield, former DE Dennis Byrd joined them as an honorary captain for the pregame coin toss. His career ended in 1992, when he broke his neck during a game, leaving him temporarily paralyzed. Three months later, he walked on crutches to a news conference.

Former Super Bowl winners Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier were honorary captains for Pittsburgh. Bleier has his own comeback story, recovering from combat wounds suffered during the Vietnam War (he was drafted by the Army after his rookie year) to play 10 more seasons.

AFC Championship Game notes 01/23/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 24, 2011 12:13am]
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