The AFC Championship game is set. The New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers will face off in the Steel City next weekend. During an AFC divisional playoff weekend that saw the Jets upend the Patriots and the Steelers comeback against the Ravens, the performances of these seven players stood out the most:
AFC Divisional Playoff Weekend: Seven Top Impact Players
7. Shaun Ellis – New York Jets
After its 45-3 loss in New England earlier in the season, many didn’t give the Jets much of a chance against the Patriots. Shaun Ellis and the New York defense pressured Brady all day, accumulating five total sacks, two by Ellis himself.
6. Terrell Suggs – Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore’s defense had its moments, from Cory Redding to Terrell Suggs, who by far had the biggest impact in the game. Suggs gave Roethlisberger headaches all day, tallying five total tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble.
5. Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh wide receiver doesn’t carry a name that many people know, but the rookie from Central Michigan made a name for himself against the Ravens. Brown handled punt and kick returns, led the team in receiving yards, and had the game’s biggest catch, hauling in a deep ball from Ben Roethlisberger that led to the go ahead touchdown.
4. Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers
Down 21-7 at halftime, Roethlisberger got the offense going in the second half, posting steady numbers throughout, and continuing to be productive in the playoffs. Big Ben’s deep ball to Antonio Brown was the biggest play of the game. Roethlisberger’s numbers on the day ended as such: 19-32, 226 yards and 2 touchdowns.
3. Jerome Harrison – Pittsburgh Steelers
The highlight of Harrison’s day wasn’t any fines or issues on the field, but just another dominant defensive performance. Harrison had three sacks of Flacco and the Ravens offense. Baltimore had all sorts of problems moving the ball in the second half.
2. Mark Sanchez – New York Jets
Mark Sanchez received the most criticism heading into the game against the Patriots. Many thought he would be the player that kept New York from competing against New England. Sanchez didn’t just push the Jets to a victory, but he also outperformed Brady, throwing 3 TD passes, while having no interceptions.
1. Santonio Holmes – New York Jets
Many may argue that Holmes doesn’t belong in this spot. He had just 20 yards receiving over three catches. Still, Holmes – who has been known for making clutch playoff catches in the past – arguably made the biggest catch of the game. After New England closed the gap to 14-11, New York moved down the field, and Holmes made an incredible catch in the corner of the end zone. It was a catch that pushed the Jets lead back to two scores and changed the momentum of the game.
Which WINNING Quarterback's Performance Was the Most UNEXPECTED During the NFL Divisional Round?
- Mark Sanchez (at Patriots) (60%, 6 Votes)
- Aaron Rodgers (at Falcons) (30%, 3 Votes)
- Jay Cutler (vs. Seahawks) (10%, 1 Votes)
- Ben Roethlisberger (vs. Ravens) (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 10
Pittsburgh also has the top run defense, and the Jets usually attempt the run first mentality with Greene and Tomlinson. Then again, New York did have some success running the ball against Pittsburgh weeks back, but it will be a challenge on the road in a title game…
I’ve got to take the Steelers. Their defense should be too much for Sanchez.