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The 23-year-old Mendenhall grew up in Illinois and played for the Illini, but he paid more attention to the Los Angeles Rams than the Chicago Bears because of the Bus.

“Jerome was my favorite player when he was on the Rams,” Mendenhall said. “I remember him for being a big guy, his feet and his movement, a lot of people don’t see him being so quick.”

The Steelers drafted Mendenhall in the first round in 2008, even though Willie Parker had just run for over 1,300 yards. However, Mendenhall’s rookie season was a disappointment. He sustained a season-ending shoulder injury after four games and watched from the sideline when the Steelers beat Arizona to win the Super Bowl.

Mendenhall couldn’t play because he was hurt. It doesn’t mean he didn’t learn from the experience.

“I saw everything it takes to prepare to win,” he said. “It means a lot to be there and be a part of it this time.”

Mendenhall credits the offensive line and coaches for his success running the ball. Against New York, tight end Heath Miller was a dominant blocker. Guard Chris Kemoeatu also was a factor with strong play on the line of scrimmage.

“He’s a unique animal at the tight end position,” Mendenhall said of Miller. “A lot of people look at tight ends and look at how many catches they have. He’s a guy that blocks well week in and week out and makes a big impact.”

The Steelers had their linemen do some pulling and combination blocking to keep the Jets off-balance and open holes for Mendenhall.

“He’s a hard runner and you know he’s gonna try hard to get that extra yard,” Foster said. “You know if you give him a hole, he can break it. It’s fun blocking for him.”

For teammates, it’s fun being around him, too.