AFC Championship 2011: Top 10 Offensive Play Makers in the Game
Everyone is talking about the two defenses that will square off in Sunday night’s AFC Championship game. Sure, the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets both play a similar game on that side of the ball. The game could very well be a defensive battle but that does not mean the teams do not have offensive firepower.
Both Pittsburgh and New York have play makers on offense.
Double G Sports took a look through the rosters and came up with a Top 10 play makers for the AFC Championship game.
10. Emmanuel Sanders (Pittsburgh WR)
Sanders may be the fourth wide receiver on the Steelers depth chart, but he could play a big role on Sunday. The rookie caught 28 passes this season for 376 yards, an average of 13.4 per catch.
With the Jets lockdown corners Cromartie and Revis likely to man up on Mike Wallace and Hines Ward, Sanders could see some room to maneuver. Six of Sanders’ receptions went for over 20 yards.
9. Dustin Keller (New York TE)
When the Jets need a big play in the middle of the field, Keller is usually the guy. He led the team in receptions this season with 55 while gaining an average of 12.5 yards per catch.
11 of Keller’s catches went for over 20 yards, while two were over 40 yards.
8. LaDainian Tomlinson (New York RB)
He may not be the big play threat he used to be but Tomlinson is still a dual threat back. He can run and catch out of the backfield.
Tomlinson averaged 4.2 yards per carry this season while rushing for a team high 914 yards. He also averaged 7.1 yards per reception this season.
In the postseason this year, Tomlinson is averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
7. Mark Sanchez (New York QB)
Sanchez may have the worst completion percentage in the AFC, and thrown just 17 touchdowns this year, but he does have a knack for making a big play.
He can use his feet to keep a play alive and has a big arm.
His trouble is accuracy. Sanchez does have 10 plays this season that have gone for over 40 yards, that’s the third highest among AFC quarterbacks this year.
It may not always be pretty, but Sanchez has beaten Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, will Big Ben be next?
6. Hines Ward (Pittsburgh WR)
Ward continues to be a reliable target for the Steelers.
He averaged 12.8 yards per reception in the regular season and had 14 go for over 20 yards. While he had just three receptions last week, Ward has always been a very solid play maker for Pittsburgh.
When they need a first down, you better believe Roethlisberger’s first few looks is at Ward.
5. Santonio Holmes (New York WR)
The former Steeler now playing for the Jets averaged 14.3 yards per catch this season while scoring six touchdowns.
11 of Holmes' catches were for over 20 yards, while three went for over 40 yards.
With the combination of speed and athleticism, Holmes is a big play waiting to happen. Think he’d love to come up big against the team that traded him?
4. Rashard Mendenhall (Pittsburgh RB)
The big back was sixth in the AFC with 1,273 yards rushing this season. He scored 13 touchdowns while averaging 3.9 yards per carry.
61 times this season, Mendenhall converted a first down. 11 of his carries went for over 20 yards. New York better wrap this guy up or he will wear them down.
For a bruising back, Mendenhall has great athleticism.
3. Braylon Edwards (New York WR)
He may still drop a pass here and there that he should have caught, but Edwards is the Jets' biggest play maker. The lengthy wide out is averaging 19 yards per reception in the postseason.
During the regular season, Edwards had 14 plays of over 20 yards and five go for over 40. He scored seven touchdowns in the regular season and has one so far in the playoffs.
When Sanchez airs it out, it’s likely headed into the hands of Braylon Edwards.
2. Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh QB)
Despite missing games due to suspension at the beginning of the season, Roethlisberger still threw for over 3,000 yards. He may not be the most agile quarterback in the league, but time and time again, you see Big Ben keep plays alive and make things happen with both his arm and legs.
He threw 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions in the regular season. Roethlisberger had 52 passes go for over 20 yards, and eight which went for over 40 yards.
1. Mike Wallace (Pittsburgh WR)
The biggest offensive play maker on the field on Sunday will be Wallace. The wide out caught a team high 60 passes for 1,257 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.
Wallace led the league by averaging 21 yards per reception. His 26 plays of 20 or more yards, and 10 of 40 or more both led the NFL. He only caught three passes in last week’s game against Baltimore and will be looking to make plays this Sunday.
He will however have his work cut out for him and Darrelle Revis or Antonio Cromartie will likely match-up with him.