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Big Ben's big throw completes Steelers' Super Bowl trek

PITTSBURGH -- Big Ben saved his best pass for last.

Ben Roethlisberger tiptoed around the backfield, hurried by Jets defenders on a third-and-6 from the New York 40.

No problem. The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback rolled right and hit Antonio Brown for a 14-yard gain with less than two minutes left to seal a 24-19 victory and win the AFC title. Up next: A trip to Dallas to play the Green Bay Packers in the Feb. 6 Super Bowl.

"That's us. It's not always pretty, but somehow we find a way to get it done," Roethlisberger said.

The Jets were out of timeouts. Three kneel-downs after Big Ben's big play, the quarterback raised an arm in the air and got mobbed by teammates as the Heinz Field stands rocked.

"This one was for Steelers fans," Roethlisberger said.

The season began with No. 7 on the sideline for the first four games after the NFL said he had violated the league's personal-conduct policy. He was accused in March of the sexual assault of a 20-year-old college student, but a prosecutor in Georgia declined to bring charges.

It will end on a very familiar stage -- at the Super Bowl.

"I don't. I don't. I'll stop you now," he said when asked about looking back to September. "Not at all."

He completed 10 of 19 passes for 133 yards with two interceptions, although his mobility did give the Jets trouble much of the night. He carried the ball 11 times for 21 rushing yards, with a 2-yard scramble into the end zone to give the Steelers a 17-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

But things got dicey for Pittsburgh in the second half. The Jets defense pitched a second-half shutout against what had been a dominating Steelers offense.

Pittsburgh controlled the line of scrimmage in the first half, even after rookie center Maurkice Pouncey left with a sprained left ankle. Running back Rashard Mendenhall gained 95 of his 121 rushing yards in the first half, twisting his way out of tackles.

Pouncey was on crutches after the game with his left ankle wrapped. He was replaced by Doug Legursky.

"I am sure we will have more information that will be debated here in the next couple of weeks. But it's a great debate to have, isn't it?" coach Mike Tomlin said.

New York stiffened against the run after halftime. Roethlisberger was tackled for a safety after a bad snap exchange at the 1 with 7:38 left.

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"We shot ourselves in the foot with mental errors," receiver Hines Ward said. "We jumped out on them so early ... some of the guys may have lowered some of their energy a little bit."

On the next drive, Jerricho Cotchery's 4-yard touchdown catch cut the Steelers' advantage to five, and the Jets kicked the ball back to the Steelers hoping for a big defensive stand.

It wasn't to be, not with Roethlisberger at the controls. He connected with Miller for a first down on a 14-yard completion on second-and-9.

"They were stacked against the run. We knew if we ran the ball three times, it was going to be tough sledding to get 10 yards and get a first down," Miller said.

The Steelers gained just 4 yards on the next two plays, both runs. Then Roethlisberger's last pass turned out to be the most important of the night.

"We weren't going to play not to lose," Tomlin said about throwing on the final drive.

Roethlisberger is 10-2 in the postseason. Entering Sunday he had completed 61 percent of his postseason passes, with 17 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

"Here we go," Steelers fans yelled in unison after the game as they furiously waved their Terrible Towels.

All the way to their third Super Bowl in six seasons.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore (12) makes a deep catch as Los Angeles Chargers outside linebacker Kyzir White (44) trails on the play during an NFL football game , Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif.

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