The Pittsburgh Steelers are headed to another Super Bowl - but not before the New York Jets made them sweat.
Rashard Mendenhall rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown and the Steelers withstood a furious second-half comeback to outlast the Jets 24-19 on Sunday at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field.
The Steelers (14-4) advanced to Super Bowl XLV to face the Green Bay Packers on Feb. 6. It is the franchise's eighth Super Bowl appearance - tying Dallas for the most all-time - and third in six years.
Pittsburgh scored the game's first 24 points and appeared on the way to a lopsided rout in taking a 24-3 lead into halftime.
Instead, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger needed to complete a pair of critical completions in the final three minutes to finally subdue the Jets, who scored 19 unanswered points and had pulled within 24-19 on Mark Sanchez's 4-yard pass to Jerricho Cotchery with 3:06 to play.
Roethlisberger finished 10 of 19 for 133 yards and two interceptions. He also ran for a second-quarter touchdown as the Steelers avenged a 22-17 home loss to New York in Week 15.
Sanchez threw for 233 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 45-yarder to ex-Steeler Santonio Holmes early in the third quarter to trigger the comeback by the Jets (13-6), who lost in the conference title game for the second consecutive season.
Pittsburgh's defense came up with a huge goal-line stand midway through the fourth quarter, turning the Jets away on three straight plays at the 1-yard line.
But on the next play, a botched snap in the end zone led to a Jets safely and cut the deficit to 24-12. The Jets also had a safety to cap the scoring in the regular-season meeting.
The Steelers dominated from the opening kickoff and seized control with two late touchdowns in a 47-second span for a 24-3 halftime lead.
Pittsburgh ate up more than nine minutes on its first possession to go 66 yards and 15 plays. Mendenhall capped the drive with a 1-yard run.
After a 20-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham made it 10-0, Roethlisberger ran in from 2 yards out to pad the lead to 17-0 with 2:00 left in the half.
The Steelers' defense extended the margin when a blitzing Ike Taylor blasted Sanchez from behind, jarring the ball loose. William Gay scooped up the fumble and returned it 19 yards to make it 24-0.
Sanchez finally got New York's offense untracked and moved the Jets into position for Nick Folk's 42-yard field goal with 9 seconds left.
Mendenhall rushed for 95 yards as the Steelers outgained New York 136-1 and held the ball for 21 minutes, 4 seconds in the first 30 minutes.