The Steelers produced much better statistics than the New York Jets the first time the two teams met on Dec. 19.
The Steelers totaled 378 yards to the Jets' 276, they had 25 first downs to the Jets' 17, and they held the ball for 2 minutes, 36 seconds more than New York.
The Steelers also committed just three penalties, didn't turn the ball over and had their best third-down percentage of the season.
So, how did they lose?
You can point to a number of plays in any game that affect the outcome, but on that snowy day, two stick out the most - a 97-yard kickoff return by New York's Brad Smith and Jason Taylor's tackle of Mewelde Moore in the end zone for a safety.
Take away those two plays, and the Steelers may win that game by a touchdown.
Those are the types of plays the Steelers need to avoid today in the rematch for the AFC Championship (6:30 p.m., CBS) if they are to advance to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas in two weeks. The earlier loss to the Jets actually didn't affect the Steelers' playoff seeding in any way, but another loss today would be devastating.
Here are five keys to the game for the Steelers if they hope to be hoisting the Lamar Hunt Trophy for the eighth time around 9:45 tonight:
Smith's kickoff return was no fluke. He is an excellent return guy, and the Steelers' special teams units suffered through late-season mediocrity.
The Baltimore Ravens' Lardarius Webb nearly broke the opening kickoff last week in the AFC divisional round against the Steelers, and later a punt return for a touchdown was nullified due to a holding penalty.
The Steelers, however, did have some success when kicker Shaun Suisham squibbed his kickoffs against Joshua Cribbs and the Cleveland Browns in the final regular-season game. They may be wise to adopt a similar tactic against the Jets.
And punter Jeremy Kapinos needs to kick as well as he did against the Ravens. He's not going to be spectacular but can help the team with its field-position battle.
A good hair day
Steelers safety Troy Polamalu didn't play against the Jets in the first meeting but is still nursing the same Achilles injury that kept him out of that game.
Polamalu didn't have one of his breakout plays last week against the Ravens, but just his presence on the field can be uplifting to his teammates.
His presence can also affect opposing young quarterbacks, like the Jets' Mark Sanchez. The second-year QB was solid in his first game against the Steelers, but having Polamalu on the other side of the ball will almost certainly affect Sanchez's decision making.
Without Polamalu in the lineup, the Jets were able to gain 106 yards on the ground. If Polamalu can help bring that rushing total down, it puts even more pressure on Sanchez this game.
Both Sanchez and Polamalu are from Southern Cal, and if Polamalu can get into Sanchez's head like he does with another USC grad, Carson Palmer, it could be a long day for the Jets.
Crush their confidence
In the 1986 college football season, Penn State adopted an intelligent defensive scheme against the favored Miami Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl.
The thought was that the Nittany Lions weren't going to let Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde beat them deep. Instead of challenging receivers in tight coverages, they simply gave a little cushion and then crushed the pass catchers immediately after they made receptions.
A similar plan may help the Steelers. Jets receivers Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes are both capable of having big games - Edwards did the last meeting - but they also are capable of dropping passes in key situations.
A few early big hits on those guys - without drawing penalty flags like Ryan Clark did in the first contest - may go a long way toward having Edwards and Holmes regain their slippery hands.
Make it Miller time
The Steelers were without tight end Heath Miller the first time, and they threw the ball to his backup, Matt Spaeth, eight times, and he finished with three receptions.
Miller will be a big key for the Steelers because the Jets have great cornerbacks who may be able to neutralize the Steelers' wide receivers.
Keep the guests guessing
The Steelers can't be too predictable on offense.
Jets coach Rex Ryan is a defensive wizard, but he can't prepare for the unknown. A team can't totally change its offensive scheme this late in the season, but a few wrinkles in the play calling may be able to keep the Jets' defense honest.
Trick plays aren't necessarily the answer, but maybe a few Ben Roethlisberger designed runs or a few more handoffs to Isaac Redman could loosen up the Jets' strong secondary.
Buck Frank can be reached at 946-7461 or firstname.lastname@example.org.