It wasn’t all that long ago that the Jacksonville Jaguars came into Heinz Field and beat the Steelers handily. Ben Roethlisberger had the worst game of his career with 5 interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. The defense wasn’t much better, particularly against the run. Leonard Fournette ran all over Pittsburgh’s defense to the tune of 181 yards and 2 touchdowns. It was an ugly game for the Steelers, from start to finish.
So what’s the case for the Jags being speed bumps you ask? Two words……..Blake Bortles. In that first matchup, Bortles had only 8 completions on 14 attempts, for a paltry 95 yards. That’s no misprint, EIGHT completions. He even managed to throw an interception on one of those 14 attempts. By turning the ball over so much, and letting Fournette run wild the Steelers affectively made Bortles shortcomings irrelevant. In other words, Bortles stunk like he usually does but it didn’t matter. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Roethlisberger repeats that kind of performance. This offense is clicking at a different level than it was back in October. The defense continues to struggle against the run at times however. Look no further than the recent Texans game to see evidence of that. The good news here is that something isn’t quite right with Leonard Fournette. He has only one 100 yard rushing game in his last 7. Whether it’s due to injury, or possibly hitting the “rookie wall” he doesn’t appear anywhere near as explosive.
So the bottom line is the same as it always is with this Steelers team. The only way Jacksonville is more than just a speed bump is if the Steelers help them out in a big way. A team with a struggling offense, a horrendous quarterback, and no post season experience should have no business winning a road play-off game. Even that great defense has its flaws, especially against the run. This game should be an easy win, but we all know how this team finds a way to make things interesting.