One man's running diary of the AFC Championship game …
6:41 P.M.: One minute until kickoff and I'm officially listed as "Doubtful -- Concussion suffered during Shannon Sharpe interview with Mike Tomlin." That being said, Sharpe would actually be an upgrade over Piers Morgan on CNN.
6:44: Steelers first drive: Antonio Cromartie with a hands to the face penalty on Emmaunel Sanders. Lots of contact, which means Sanders will be giving birth to his first child in early October.
6:46: Two things that disappoint me: It's a night game, so no sunglasses for Tomlin (my favorite coach look going today). And the temps are in single digits, so Ed Hochuli is keeping the guns under wraps.
6:48: Great play by Roethlisberger, who got popped by Calvin Pace but got the ball to Mendenhall for a first down. Say what you want about Big Ben, but would he ever leave a conference tile game like Jay Cutler did?
6:51: Just to let you know the kind of intellect the Celtics will have to tangle with in June, here's a Tweet from Lebron James:
"Hahahahahahahahaha. James Brown and the E Trade Baby was just talking about the Jets-Steelers game. Hilarious."
6:53: First challenge of the night, as Rex throws the flag after a Heath Miller catch puts the Steelers at the Jets' three-yard line. My prediction? Rex loses. Another prediction? "Hall Pass" will not be screened for critics before its release. This is the Farrelly brothers equivalent of Tim Wakefield's 2010 season.
6:56: Play overturned. I'm the anti- Mike Pereira.
6:58: Roethlisberger to Ward -- first and goal at the Jets' one-yard line. The Jets spent the whole week giving Roethlisberger the Sasha Grey treatment and it sure looks like they actually fear him early on.
7:02: Mendenhall runs over Bart Scott for the first TD. Guess Scott learned that from Iron Mike Sharpe. A nine-plus minute opening TD drive -- really impressive, classic Steelers stuff.
7:05: I'm getting a mild rubber underwear sense from the Jets. This is a huge first drive, if only to get a couple of first downs to keep the defense off the field.
7:08: Sanchez has his first pass knocked down. People have towels, and they wave them. Looks terrible.
7:09: Twenty-seven minutes of actual time between kickoff and first snap for Jets' offense. Which is ironic, because if you add up all six of the Michelle Ryan foot fetish videos on YouTube the running time is … sixteen minutes and 11 seconds. Oh well.
7:11: Sanchez with a big third-down conversion to Jerricho Cotchery, who is giving off a big Troy Brown vibe this postseason.
7:12: Jim Nantz just described Santonio Holmes and Ike Taylor as "close pals." Pals? I guess it's true, I mean I'll never forget the time me, Santonio, Ike, Vern and Teddy Duchamp went looking for Ray Brower's body. I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve.
7:16: Steelers force a punt -- but a semi-productive drive for the Jets (flipped the field with three first downs). Sanchez looks OK -- but I still think he throws three picks in this one.
7:19: Mendenhall for 12 yards on first play of second drive. Anyone else wondering why BenJarvus Green-Ellis only had nine carries last week?
7:20: End of first quarter. 7-0 Steelers and it has been total domination. Total yards? 97-19, 9-3 edge in first downs and almost a seven-minute difference in time of possession. Jets do have a 1-0 lead in "Cliche-filled pre-game speeches by a running back who tells us how classy he is."
7:24: Eric Smith with a personal foul -- blasted a defenseless Emmanuel Sanders. Not sure if it was penalty worthy but that's life when you've earned that reputation.
7:27: Steelers going for it on fourth and a yard or so from the Jets' 33-yard line … and score one for the "Let's think too hard" crew, as the Steelers -- who have run the ball down the Jets' throats -- go play-action, Mendenhall drops an easy one and Roethlisberger is picked off by Brian Thomas.
7:31: Is there a pill I can take that will knock me out until the new episode of "Blue Bloods" begins on Wednesday?
7:33: Sanchez third-and-13 pass dropped by Cotchery, who is giving off a Reche Caldwell in 2006 vibe this postseason.
7:34: Shank from Steve Weatherford (29-yard punt), who has been terrible the last month or so. I know he was the guy who brought the Shake Weights to practice in that episode of "Hard Knocks", but how much goodwill can that possibly buy?
7:37: Mendenhall picks up 35 yards. The Steelers have more first downs (12) than the Jets have offensive plays (11).
7:39: Just saw the video of Mark Sanchez picking his nose and wiping it on Mark Brunell's jacket. I believe I'd rather eat that than watch the new Jason Biggs sitcom.
7:42: Isaac Redman for a 13-yard rush to the Jets' six-yard line. The Jets missed four tackles on the play -- this is the 45-3 defense to this point.
7:45: The Jets hold the Steelers to a field goal. A 10-0 Steelers lead that could easily be 21-0.
7:51: Terrible three-and out for the Jets. Sanchez throws behind Edwards on second down and has a pass knocked down (his third of the game) on third. He's been awful so far, his most productive moment has been flicking a snot on his backup's jacket.
7:55: We are a game and a half into championship weekend and the best quarterback has been Caleb Hanie, who four hours ago I would have guessed was either a backup dancer for Justin Bieber or the new kid in town on a WB teen drama.
7:56: Steelers driving again. Mendenhall with a catch and run to the Jets' three yard line. First-and-goal and the Jets looked cooked.
7:58: Roethlisberger with a keeper for a TD. 17-0 and it's hard to imagine a scenario in which the Jets come back, though let's not forget that the NFL has also made some tweaks to the playoff format. Not just overtime scoring, but the team with the classiest running back gets 10 points to start the third quarter.
8:01: Sanchez sacked and then overthrows Cotchery by a good five feet. Third-and-17 and this could get ugly.
8:02: And it's ugly -- I'm talking Willie McGee ugly. Ike Taylor plants Sanchez on a blitz, William Gay picks up fumble and scores. It's 24-0, though the play in under review.
8:04: Play stands. It's 24-0, and this game is now basically a swell lead-in for "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
8:06: Just did a "Gay Steelers" Google search to look up William Gay. Didn't work out exactly as planned. I did learn the name "Steely McBam", however.
8:10: "Excellent job -- how about Sanchez?" asks Phil Simms after a five-yard completion against a prevent defense that netted the Jets their second first down of the half. That's your No. 1 color analyst, girls and boys.
8:13: The Jets have a mini-drive going. First down at the Steelers' 34 with 28 seconds left. Plenty of time to set Nick Folk up for a 34-yard missed field goal.
8:15: Sanchez nearly picked by Taylor -- this is incredibly shaky performance on the big stage. Watching Sanchez toss up this kind of stinker must make Drew Bledsoe feel like one of the Winklevoss twins when he learned about Facebook.
8:17: Folk converts on a 42-yarder and the Jets are on the board.
8:19: Really, the first half is just foreplay for the Sprint Halftime Report, isn't it? We'll be back in 15 minutes or so.
8:34: We're back! Things we learned: Dan Marino thinks the Jets need to tackle and Boomer Esiason thinks the Jets need to score touchdowns. I feel properly briefed.
8:35: Shonn Greene starts the second half with a 23-yard run, which is 22 more yards than the Jets rushed for in the first half.
8:36: Down 21 points with 14 minutes left in the first half, Mark Sanchez decides to use a timeout on first down. Roger Goodell just retroactivity docked him three Wonderlic points.
8:37: My bad, the officials just admitted they made a mistake and did not charge the Jets with a timeout. I'm keeping the joke in, though, despite the fact that I'm not sure Sanchez actually got three points on the Wonderlic Test.
8:40: Sanchez to a wide-open Santonio Holmes for 45 yards and a touchdown. We've got a pulse!
8:42: Call it a hunch, but I think Jason Statham isn't going to take any crap from anyone in this new movie.
8:44: Roethlisberger should have been picked on third-and-two: Ball goes right off Kyle Wilson's face mask. Roethlisberger has been quietly mediocre in this one.
8:47: Killer penalty right there -- roughing the kicker gives the Steelers a first down. The dropped INT and the penalty are the kind of things that can't happen if you want to make a comeback against a team as good as the Steelers.
8:49: Well, Phil Simms has seen a change in Roethlisberger as a person during his four 15-minute interviews this season. Good enough for me.
8:51: Second pick of the game for Roethlisberger, who has a passer rating of 27.4. The Steelers have totally given up on the run, which makes no sense.
8:53: And the Jets do nothing with the turnover, going three-and-out. It feels like they just kicked away their big chance. I smell a TD drive coming up for the Steelers that will end the Jets season and let me watch "Big Love" on time (if I watched "Big Love", I mean. And if I did I'd be a Marge fan, not that nasty Nicolette.)
8:55: Director decides to give us 30 seconds of slo-mo shots of fans breathing. It's cold, so we can actually see their breath. Astonishing stuff, beats giving us stats, injury updates or any kind of football news.
8:58: Cromartie with a holding penalty on Mike Wallace on third down to keep drive going for Steelers. He's not happy about it -- looks like he thinks his First Amendment rights have been violated again. In more ways than one he's the Larry Flynt of cornerbacks.
9:02: Jets defense has been much better the last three, four series. Back-to-back sacks on Roethlisberger gives them the ball back with 1:29 left in the third quarter. If only the Steelers could avoid passing the ball and just hand it to a back of some kind.
9:07: Braylon Edwards with his first catch of the game -- first down for the Jets at midfield. The crowd is a little tense for the first time all night as the third quarter comes to a close.
9:11: When you guys throw a Pro Bowl party, do you worry about tension between your AFC and NFC friends spilling over? Either way, we can all agree that it's a night to celebrate the 2010 season of Brandon Meriweather.
9:13: Huge situation for the Jets here, third-and-four from the Steelers' 33. And … Sanchez to Keller for six yards. Sanchez has been very good in the second half -- second straight week he's outplayed a multi-Super Bowl winning QB on the road.
9:14: What a hit by James Farrior on Greene to force a fourth and maybe half a yard at the Steelers' 21. This is the season for the Jets … and Greene easily picks up the first down behind Brandon Moore.
9:19: Great run by Greene -- the best back in the playoffs last year -- to the Steelers' six. LT has been no factor in this one -- but that is his AFC Title Game trademark. Points for consistency.
9:21: What is Brian Schottenheimer doing? The Jets run the ball down the field with Greene, and then goes back-to-back passes at the goal line? Who wants one of those head coaching jobs, anyway? Too much pressure.
9:23: And LT is stuffed at the goal-line. Steelers take over and a 17-play drive is worthless. But at least Brian Schottenheimer has a cool nickname and a sweet goatee.
9:25: And by "worthless" I mean it pins the Steelers back and allows the Jets to pick up a safety. The score is now 24-12 (Jets just six safeties away from a tie), but time is a serious factor.
9:27: Sanchez and Roethlisberger are having a Bird-Wilkins duel, and by that I mean the time I saw Eddie Bird and Gerald Wilkins perform a skate off at a rink in Saugus.
9:30: Give Scott Caan's Hawaii Five-O character this: Even in the face of a tsunami warning he still nails the wacky sidekick role.
9:32: I'm assuming Shonn Greene is hurt, because LT is stopped on a third-and-short. Fourth-and-one coming up …
9:34: First down to Edwards (remember when he dropped everything? -- he's been the best wideout in the postseason) at the Steelers' 17. Under five minutes and not a lot of urgency from the Jets, even though they are down two scores. Sound familiar?
9:36: Touchdown to Cotchery -- 19 straight points for the Jets. Good point by Jim Nantz (no, I'm serious) -- why not go for two points? You have to look ahead, if you convert and score another TD it's a 27-24 lead. What good is 26-24? And there is no difference between 24-19 and 24-18 from a Jets perspective. Too much nit-picking? OK, I'll retreat.
9:40: Roethlisberger to Heath Miller for a first down at the NJY 44 -- Jets are down to just a single timeout with 2:43 left.
9:43: Two-minute warning with a huge third-and-six looming.
9:47: What a play by Roethlisberger to put the game away. Forced to his right and facing some heavy pressure, he connects with Antonio Brown for the first down. Doesn't matter how he played to that point -- just a clutch play that I'm not sure any other QB in the league makes in that spot. And is Simms crazy? No way the Steelers run in that spot -- this is a passing league and Roethlisberger is their guy.
9:50: Roethlisberger takes a knee and a not-so-great but plenty entertaining game comes to an end. I still think if Bart Scott hadn't been inactive this would have been a different game.
9:52: Pats fans: Are you looking more forward to Packers-Steelers in 14 days or the NFL Draft in 95 days? Figured as much.