How about a few facts, figures, and stats to get our Thursday started. While writing this, I stumbled across a particular historical trend in Conference Championship Games this past two decades that I proceeded to sidetrack and begin writing about. I'll have to come back to that one a bit later, as it turns out.
In the interest of time for the immediate moment, I'll have to bypass the complimentary commentary on what follows, and just bang out the facts/stats for your quick Thursday morning consumption. Some are merely about the regular seasons turned in by the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Jets; others focus in on the two teams' playoff history; and others highlight individual stats, records, and milestones. All hopefully get you just that much more excited and ready for the AFC Championship Game set to be played at Heinz Field on Sunday early evening. And fret not, I've still got lots more in store for this next two business days before we head home for the weekend and proceed to become really anxious and excited for Sunday afternoon to arrive.
Close to Staking Our Rightful Claim
The Steelers will make their 15th AFC/AFL championship game appearance on Sunday, and will host the franchise's 11th AFC championship, both of which are the most in AFC/AFL history. It also marks the Steelers' 28th home playoff game, the most among all teams in the Super Bowl era (since 1966), surpassing the Dallas Cowboys (27).
With a win, the Steelers will tie the Dallas Cowboys (33) for the most postseason wins in NFL history. Given how the past decade has gone, the Steelers might be well on their way towards doubling up on Dallas' postseason total. Just be patient. The day is coming.
A victory would also give Pittsburgh its 20th home playoff victory, breaking a tie with Dallas and Oakland (19) for the most such wins all-time.
The teams with the most all-time postseason wins:
The Steelers have played in seven Super Bowls, winning an NFL-best six (Super Bowl IX, X, XIII, XIV, XL and XLIII). Pittsburgh can earn its eighth Super Bowl berth (lost Super Bowl XXX), tying Dallas for the most ever.
|Team||Super Bowl Berths|
No Stranger to Success Behind Enemy Lines
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez improved to 4-1 in road playoff games, tying him with Pro Football Hall of Famers Len Dawson and Roger Staubach and Jake Delhomme for the best winning percentage (.800) in a quarterback's first five postseason starts on the road.
If New York wins this Sunday at Pittsburgh, Sanchez will earn his fifth postseason road victory as a starting quarterback, the most in NFL history.
The most playoff road wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history:
|Player||Career||Playoff Road Wins As Starter|
Where's Ben Roethlisberger on the list? Well, sorry, you'll just have to wait awhile. He doesn't qualify just yet despite having played five more seasons than Sanchez (and four more than Flacco while we're at it). Oh well, moving. This list is reserved for quarterbacks on teams that can't secure home playoff games.
Laying the Wood When It Matters Most
Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley has registered nine sacks in five career playoff games and has posted at least one sack in each contest. Among players who competed in their first postseason game after 1982, Woodley and Jason Buck (who?) are the only players to record at least one sack in each of their first five postseason games.
With at least one sack on Sunday, Woodley can become the 10th player to register at least 10 postseason sacks since 1982. He would reach double-digit postseason sacks in his sixth career game, the fewest number of playoff games to record at least 10 sacks.
The players to reach 10 postseason sacks in the fewest games:
|Player||Games to 10 Postseason Sacks|
* Woodley wii remarkably be playing in just his sixth postseason game this Sunday. Game, set, match No. 56.
(H/T to the NFL for contributing some of the nuggets feature . Get similar tidbits from the league's PR folks by following @NFLFootballInfo)