Ben Roethlisberger played his worst game of the season against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Toss in some bad luck and poor performances from his supporting cast, and you get that ugly five interception, blowout loss. But the Jaguars’ coaching staff knows not to expect that a second time. They’re going to see a much improved Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense.
“I’ve seen him for too long right now to really think that’s going to get to him,” Jags’ head coach Doug Marrone said in a conference call via PennLive’s Lauren Kirschman. “I think that for our players, we do understand that it’s different. That was Week 5 in the season. A lot has gone by since then.”
That echoes what Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday.
“You don’t look at it a lot,” he said, referring to the previous matchup. “There’s a lot of trending in ball. We’ve evolved a lot since then, they’ve evolved a lot since then.”
For Tomlin, and the same probably goes for Jacksonville, the most useful information from Week 5 are the individual matchups. How pass rushers won, how the guards blocked, the individual tendencies and ways players win and lose.
For Pittsburgh, they did everything in their power to create a blowout loss. A red zone offense that stalled out in he first half. And five turnovers, two pick sixes, that meant the Jaguars’ offense didn’t need to do much of anything to take control of the game. Once they got the lead, their elite defense went to work.
That much, at least, will remain unchanged heading into the playoffs. And from a broad and obvious perspective, the matchup of a much improved Roethlisberger against this Jaguars’ secondary will be one of the critical keys to deciding who is victorious.
“With the weapons they have, they can hurt you in so many different ways,” Marrone said. “So, for us defensively, we’re really going to have to play well. It’s going to be a great challenge, not just in the backend but up front in everything that we do.”
If there is a defense who can contend with Killer B’s and others, it is Jacksonville. But that doesn’t make the challenge any easier for them.