View Full Version : Game 5 Matchup: Steelers vs. Jaguars

10-05-2008, 02:12 AM
Game 5 Matchup: Steelers vs. Jaguars
Gerry Dulac breaks down the revenge game in Jacksonville
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Game plan

When the Steelers have the ball: They will be without their top three running backs and have a new starter at right guard because of injuries. That could mean additional emphasis on the passing game against a Jaguars defense that ranks 24th in the league against the pass. Ben Roethlisberger has passed for 579 yards and five TDs in the past two games against the Jaguars, but hasn't thrown for more than 200 yards in a game this season and already has been sacked 15 times. The Jaguars wanted to improve their pass rush in the offseason when they drafted DEs Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves, but the defense has only five sacks in four games. That has put a lot of pressure on the secondary.

When the Jaguars have the ball: The offensive line has been a concern because both starting guards have been lost to season-ending injuries. What's more, C Brad Meester (biceps) has not played this season. As a result, the Jaguars have struggled with their running game. But that isn't the only reason. Opposing teams have ganged up to stop Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew and dared QB David Garrard to beat them with the pass, a tactic the Steelers always have employed against the Jaguars. Taylor and Jones-Drew have combined to rush for over 100 yards in just one game.
Keep an eye on ...

The Jaguars special teams:. Not only do they have perhaps the fastest return man in the league in rookie Brian Witherspoon, who averages 29.7 yards on kickoffs and 15.8 yards on punts; they also have one of the most daring units in the league. Twice this year they have attempted onside kicks in non-traditional situations and last week scored on a 41-yard run by Montel Owens on a fake punt. In addition, K Josh Scobee has converted 10 for 11 field goals and has game-winning kicks of 51 and 37 yards the past two weeks.

The Jaguars have won the past four meetings and lead the overall series, 12-8. They are 7-3 at home vs. the Steelers. What's more, after an 0-2 start, they have won their past two with last-second field goals. The Steelers' health could be an issue because they are coming off a physical game in which they lost two players with season-ending injuries and have a short week to prepare.
Keys to victory

To win, the Jaguars must ...

1. Cut 'em off at the pass. It doesn't seem like a difficult quandary -- stop Ben Roethlisberger or stop Mewelde Moore?

2. Find their MoJo. Maurice Jones-Drew hurt the Steelers with big plays in the playoffs -- the type of play they will try to use to exploit blitzing LBs.

3. Tune their 'Spoon. Witherspoon is only 175 pounds and goes down easy when hit, but has been clocked under 4.2 and is difficult to catch.

To win, the Steelers must ...

1. Not disregard Garrard. The Jaguars' QB hurt the Steelers with a fourth-down run of 32 yards in the playoffs, and he did it last week vs. Houston.

2. Put Fred to bed. Taylor had 147 of his team's 224 rushing yards in last year's regular-season victory at Heinz Field.

3. Attack the press. The Jaguars like to bring their CBs to the line in press coverage, a dangerous tactic for a team that doesn't generate pass pressure.
Gerry Dulac can be reached at gdulac@post-gazette.com.
First published on October 5, 2008 at 12:00 am