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Pittsburgh Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall Dances Past the Jets in Game of Career

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 23:  Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers holds up the Lamar Hunt trophy as former Steeler Rocky Bleier looks on after the Steelers defeated the New York Jets 24 to 19 in the 2011 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field on January 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Gary SuggContributor IIJanuary 25, 2011

After up-and-down performances this season, it seems that running back Rashard Mendenhall’s dancing in the hip-hop studio could possibly be to credit for the way he tears up a football field.  After taking his first formal hip-hop dance classes this season, Mendenhall claims that it is helping his subconscious body movements on and off the field.

Many criticize Mendenhall for his risky running style with too much lateral movement, and spin moves that appear to be reckless and unjustified.  However, whether you credit his success to the dance classes or not, it’s all beginning to click.

Coming a long way from 46 rushing yards on 20 carries and lost a fumble against Baltimore in the AFC divisional playoffs last week, Pittsburgh Steelers back Rashard Mendenhall seemingly turned around his season’s portrayal for the good.

As critics started to write-off Mendenhall, No. 34 showed up at Heinz Field Sunday and presented his true talent against the New York Jets, displaying the best showcase yet in his NFL career.  Rushing for 121 yards on 27 carries and catching two passes for 32 yards, Mendenhall posed as a threat both from the backfield and the open field. 

Earning 28 yards in the Steelers first drive against the Jets, Mendenhall got his team on the board with six minutes left in the first quarter with a one-yard punch across the goal line.

In a game where his team needed him the most, Mendenhall stood up and showed an NFL league MVP-contending performance in a do-or-die postseason battle.  Center Maurkice Pouncey said, "He went out there and handled it for us.  We really needed that.”

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