The Stat Line Of The Night — 1/23/11 — Rashard Mendenhall

The AFC Championship Game was supposed to be a battle between two of the league’s top defenses, but the Pittsburgh Steelers offense was making the New York Jets defense look quite average throughout the first half, thanks in large part to the play of Rashard Mendenhall.

The third-year running back out of Illinois was unstoppable in the first half, running for first-down after first-down as he accumulated 95 of his 121 rushing yeads in the opening 30 minutes.  That included a long run of 35-yards and a short 1-yard touchdown run as the Steelers went into the break leading 24-3.  They would fail to score another point during the final 30 minutes as Mendenhall would slow down considerably, but a 21-point lead was all their defense needed as they would hold on for the 24-19 victory.

With the win, the Steelers find themselves playing in their third Super Bowl in the last six years.  There they will meet the Packers, who have been on fire since losing to the New England Patriots in week 15.  Their defense has been impressive in the playoffs, allowing an average of only 17 points per game and 69.7 rushing yards per game against.  If the Steelers expect to win their seventh Super Bowl title, they will need to another solid performance from Mendenhall, who earns our “Stat Line of the Night” for Sunday, January 23, 2011.

Tags: afc championship game, new york jets, NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers, rashard mendenhall, super bowl,