So now we know who the enemy is, and it is the one that we have long anticipated. The Jacksonville Jaguars will be returning to the scene of the crime, with the Pittsburgh Steelers hosting them for the Divisional Round in Heinz Field. And with them, they will be bringing some nostalgia for the year 2007.
That is because that is the last time they were in the playoffs. That is the last time that they won a playoff game, and that win was over the Steelers. And in doing so, they became, according to Ed Bouchette, the only non-divisional opponent ever to defeat the Steelers at home twice in the same season.
They are not, of course, the only non-divisional opponent to beat them anywhere in the same season. The New England Patriots just accomplished that feat a year ago, when they defeated a Landry Jones-led team at Heinz Field and then blew out the Steelers in Foxboro in the AFC Championship Game.
It is a rarer feat to defeat the same team on the road twice in the same season. And the Jaguars will be the only team to be able to attempt that this year, since they are the only team the Steelers have lost to this season that they will be playing at home.
2007 was the first season under new head coach Mike Tomlin. Taking over for Bill Cowher after a rough 2006 season that saw Ben Roethlisberger battered and bruised on and off the field, Tomlin was able to turn a 8-8 team into a division winner.
But, cited by many players as the reason for the team’s struggles late in the year was a very physical practice schedule, even going back into training camp. Players said that their physical practices left them with little in the tank by the end of the year. Or this was just a convenient excuse for their playoff failure.
And fail they did, going one-and-done thanks to a David Garrard game-winning drive in the Wildcard Round at Heinz Field. It was off of Josh Scobee’s foot that the Jaguars seized a 31-29 lead with under a minute to play, and a Bobby McCray strip sack sealed the game.
Roethlisberger threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns in the game, but he was also intercepted three times. Rashean Mathis got two of them, and returned one of them for a 63-yard touchdown. The Jaguars also brought the big, young quarterback down six times.
Sound familiar? Jacksonville intercepted Roethlisberger five times during their 30-9 victory during the regular season this year, returning two for touchdowns. Though he was only sacked twice in the game, he was hit repeatedly throughout the afternoon.
Going back to 2007, the Jaguars also handed the Steelers a loss in Week 15 by a final score of 29-22. Despite throwing three touchdowns, he was matched by Garrard, and a late rushing score by Fred Taylor proved to be the difference.