At the time the score looked like a misprint.
Jacksonville 30. Pittsburgh 9 .
On the road.
A result so stunningly one-sided Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger stood in the locker room on that gray October afternoon only half-jokingly wondered if he still had ”it.”
Throwing five interceptions Trent Taylor Jersey , two of which the Jaguars returned for momentum-swinging, confidence-sapping touchdowns, will do that.
Yet Roethlisberger insists he’s not out for revenge in the rematch on Sunday when the Jaguars (11-6) visit Heinz Field in the divisional round with a trip to the AFC title game on the line.
There’s too much at stake for him to settle some sort of personal vendetta.
Or so he says.
”I’ll play anyone in the postseason,” Roethlisberger said.
Only Jacksonville isn’t ”anyone.” Not anymore. Not after the NFL’s top-ranked defense proved that breakout performance three months ago was a sign of things to come.
The Jaguars don’t play a particularly pretty brand of football. They also don’t particularly care.
Doubt them all you want. Mock their offense at your leisure.
Last they checked, there will be 24 teams watching the playoffs this weekend and Jacksonville isn’t one of them.
”We’ve just got to score one more point than they do,” Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles said.
”It doesn’t matter who scores it, where it comes from, how we do it, what it looks like, we score one more than them and I’m happy with how we did it.”
Bortles and the other 52 guys on the roster might be the only ones.
The Steelers (13-3) entered the season as one of the favorites to reach the Super Bowl.
Despite a fall filled with drama (much of it self-created) Pittsburgh was really only pushed around once. By the Jaguars.
Take Jacksonville lightly at your peril, something the Steelers found out on Oct. 8.
”Some people come in thinking a team may be easier by their record or tougher by their record, but we know that can’t be on our mind,” Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell said.
”I think that kind of got us in the first game because the Jacksonville Jaguars, they’re normally not a good team but those guys got players this year. They’ve been making plays.”
If the Jaguars can do it for another 60 minutes, they’ll reach the NFL’s final four for just the third time in franchise history.
Yes Aldrick Rosas Jersey , really.
Some things to look for as the Jaguars try to pull off a second stunner against a team that believes its season is destined to end with a trip to Minneapolis for the Super Bowl.
AB’s BACK: Pittsburgh All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown is expected to play after missing the final 2+ games of the regular season with a left calf contusion. Brown practiced all week, though he was sent home on Friday because of an illness.
Brown caught 10 passes for 157 yards in the first meeting with Jacksonville and his return means all of Pittsburgh’s ”Killer Bs” will be ready to go.
”If he’s out there, I expect him to be AB,” Steelers cornerback Joe Haden said.
LEONARD’S LEAP: Jaguars rookie running back Leonard Fournette hammered the Steelers for a season-high 181 yards in October, including a 2-yard touchdown leap and a 90-yard sprint to the end zone in the final two minutes that sealed it. Fournette’s production has dipped in recent weeks. He’s only averaged higher than 3.9 yards per carry once over the past eight weeks, though Bortles doesn’t think Fournette has smacked into the rookie wall.
”There has obviously been some hiccups and bumps in the road with different things,” Bortles said. ”It’s not on him, it’s on guys up front, it’s on me getting us in the right play, receivers blocking. It’s on everyone.”
CHILL OUT DUDE: Temperatures are expected to be in the teens at kickoff, a decided departure for the Jaguars.
While Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone downplayed the elements, Bell believes he has an advantage when the mercury drops.
A year ago against Miami in the wild-card round, he pounded the Dolphins for 167 yards and two touchdowns as the temperature hovered around 17 degrees.
”It definitely affects guys who are tackling,” Bell said. ”That’s why when it’s cold outside I take a lot of pride because I know guys don’t want to tackle.”
COACH SHAY: Injured Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier spent some time at the team’s facility this week, getting around in a wheelchair while recovering from spinal stabilization surgery last month following a hit against Cincinnati that left his lower body motionless.
Shazier’s presence has provided the Steelers with a boost Laremy Tunsil Jersey , and while his football career is likely over, he remains intent on finding a way to contribute. Shazier, who would get to work as early as 6 a.m. to break down film when he was playing, is now serving as equal parts advance scout and motivational speaker.
”He loves football so much,” guard David DeCastro said. ”It’s amazing to see and just to have the attitude he has after all he’s been through man, it’s pretty impressive. I don’t know if I’d be able to do the same.”
The Los Angeles Rams made one pick through the first two days of the NFL draft.
They made 10 picks on Day 3, continuing their active offseason by making five trades Saturday, including sending wide receiver Tavon Austin to Dallas.
The Rams used those picks to address immediate needs at linebacker and improve their depth on the offensive and defensive lines for the future.
"We did think if we could turn a lot of the fourth-, fifth-, sixth-round picks into more picks, we'd have a chance to get fits and fill some roles or get players with traits to have a chance to fill some of those roles," general manager Les Snead said.
The Rams have made 11 trades since the league year started on March 14, and that doesn't include the deal with Buffalo for wide receiver Sammy Watkins in August that included their second-round pick.
All of the Rams' picks came from other teams, either through trades or as compensatory selections.
But the Rams ended up using one of their own choices, re-acquiring the fifth-round pick they sent to Denver for cornerback Aqib Talib in March. Getting the 160th overall pick back for two sixth-round picks Keanu Neal Jersey , the Rams took Oklahoma outside linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo.
Virginia inside linebacker Micah Kiser was also selected in the fifth, with Louisville edge rusher Trevon Young chosen in the sixth. TCU's Travin Howard, a safety turned linebacker, and SMU defensive end Justin Lawler went in the seventh.
Ogbonnia, Young and Lawler will try to replace Robert Quinn, who was traded to Miami in March, and unsigned free agent Connor Barwin. Kiser will compete to replace Alec Ogletree, who was dealt to the Giants in March. Howard can provide added depth at inside linebacker.
The Rams also addressed both lines of scrimmage. After taking Horned Frogs tackle Joe Noteboom in the third round on Friday, the Rams added Michigan State center Brian Allen in the fourth and Maine offensive lineman Jamil Demby in the sixth.
Stephen F. Austin defensive end John Franklin, a fourth-round pick, and Rutgers nose tackle Sebastian Joseph, a sixth-round pick, will get to learn from the likes of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh.
Tennessee running back John Kelly was the only skill player the Rams took, selected in the sixth.
"Going into year two, you could be a little bit more strategic with some of the needs because collectively as a coaching staff and with our personnel staff we have a much better idea of how our players that have been here fit Matt Judon Jersey ," coach Sean McVay said.
Here are some other things to know about the Rams' busy draft:
MOVING ON: The Rams sent Austin to Dallas for a sixth-round draft pick five years after selecting him with the eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft. Austin never developed into more than a gadget player under former head coach Jeff Fisher, and served as a change-of-pace running back last season under McVay after a wrist injury sidelined him for organized team activities and training camp.
SENIOR SIGNIFICANCE: Noteboom, Kiser, Okoronkwo and Demby participated in the Senior Bowl. Snead said it was a coincidence after six of their eight draft picks in 2017 played in Senior Bowl, but added that the talent level at the event was especially beneficial for a smaller-school player like Demby.
KAMARA 2.0? Todd Gurley established himself as the premier three down back in football with 2,093 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns last season, but Kelly could lighten the workload for the NFL Offensive Player of the Year.
Stepping in for New Orleans rookie sensation Alvin Kamara, Kelly had 37 receptions for 299 yards with the Volunteers last season after catching six passes for 51 yards in 2016.
"I definitely wanted to be able to incorporate the route-running and pass-catching in my game because I know it translates to the league," Kelly said on a conference call. "I was just blessed to have a guy like Alvin that was able to show me how to perfect my craft on that."
STILL NEED: The additions of Kiser and Howard give the Rams more options at inside linebacker, but Mark Barron is the only proven starter there. It wouldn't be a surprise if they add a veteran capable of calling plays and getting everyone lined up. Increased depth and competition at safety could be an aim with undrafted free agents.
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