AFC Championship Game 2011: Who's Afraid of Troy Polamalu?

Malcolm DiazCorrespondent IJanuary 21, 2011

Troy Polamalu
Troy PolamaluGregory Shamus/Getty Images

This Sunday's AFC Championship matchup between the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers will feature the return of safety extraordinaire Troy Polamalu. With his return, Jets fans have every reason to be afraid.

During the Week 15 regular season matchup against the Steelers, the Jets dodged a bullet when Troy was unable to play due to an injured Achilles tendon. The Jets pulled out a 22-17 victory, staving off a resurging Steelers team that came within one dropped TD pass of closing the book on the Jets in the final seconds.

With Troy back in the picture the Jets offense will have its hands full dealing with the NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Widely recognized as one of the game’s best at his position, the safety had seven interceptions in 14 games along with a sack, a forced fumble and 82 tackles.

Uncannily skilled, Polamalu seemingly does it all. He is capable of lining up anywhere on the field and having an immediate impact. His presence opens up a tremendous amount of options for legendary Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. His ability to seemingly be everywhere allows the Steelers defense to be extremely aggressive in their game planning, with little fear of giving up the big play.

In order for the Jets to have success against this team, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and quarterback Mark Sanchez will have to account for Troy on every single down. Sanchez will likely need to play the game of his life to prevent Troy from stealing the Jets thunder this Sunday.

More worrisome for the Jets this weekend is the fact that the Steelers defense is chocked full of playmakers, so avoiding Polamalu is only a small part of the puzzle the Jets will need to piece together.

This article is also featured on AFCBeast.com


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