US Football: Roethlisberger helps Steelers rally to claim AFC final spot
THE Pittsburgh Steelers recovered from a 14-point half-time deficit to defeat the Baltimore Ravens 31-24 in an AFC divisional play-off game on Saturday.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger found rookie Antonio Brown with a 58-yard pass play and Rashard Mendenhall scored from the two-yard line with the clock ticking down to send Pittsburgh to their fifth AFC championship game in 10 seasons.
The Steelers were trailing 21-7 at half-time after turnovers created two Ravens touchdowns. But they came back with the help of three Baltimore turnovers during one of most miserable third quarters in Ravens history.
The Steelers outscored the Ravens 24-3 in the second half to reach the AFC title game for the second time in three years. In their last appearance, the Steelers went on to win their sixth Super Bowl.
Baltimore scored their only points of the second half when Billy Cundiff booted a 24-yard field goal with just under four minutes left to tie the score at 24-24 before Mendenhall's second touchdown of the game sealed the result.
In Atlanta, Aaron Rodgers threw for 366 yards and three touchdown passes, ran for another score and led the Green Bay Packers to their second straight post-season road victory with a stunning 48-21 rout of the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons.
The Packers will have to win one more on the road to complete their improbable run from sixth seeds to the Super Bowl, but nothing looks out of the question the way Rodgers is playing.
They will travel to face bitter rivals Chicago Bears next weekend after Jay Cutler made a spectacular play-off debut by throwing for two touchdowns and running for two others as they defeated the Seattle Seahawks 35-24 to advance to the NFC championship.
The Chicago quarter-back showed no sign of jitters, completing 15 of 28 passes for 274 yards, including touchdown strikes to Greg Olsen and Kellen Davis, as the Bears raced to a 21-0 half-time lead then coasted into the NFC title game while ending the Seahawks' play-off run.
Cutler also ran for touchdowns of six and nine yards while a ferocious Bears defence bared its teeth, holding Seattle to a field goal through three quarters.