While it has been roughly 14 weeks since the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-9 at Heinz Field, rookie outside linebacker T.J. Watt hasn’t quickly forgotten about how their rookie running back Leonard Fournette ran seemingly at will against the defense during that contest.
“They came in our place earlier in the season and kind of handed it to us and kind of showed us that they were going to run the ball all over us and we couldn’t stop it,” Watt said Tuesday during an interview with Mike Florio on the Pro Football Talk Podcast.
Watt has since had plenty of time to digest the tape from that October home loss to the Jaguars and was able to tell Florio why Fournette was able to run all over the Steelers defense in that Week 5 game.
“It was just a lot of run fit issues,” Watt said. “I think that just towards the end of the game, when he started breaking some of the longer runs, we had some run fit issues where we were just trying to do too much. We were trying to make the big splash play when we should have just been maintaining our gaps.”
Fournette’s 181-yard, two touchdown performance against the Steelers included him somewhat taunting safety Mike Mitchell later in the contest as if to dare him to come up and hit him in the open field. On Tuesday, Watt was asked by Florio if there’s still some lingering saltiness toward Fournette as a result of that gesture he made during the second half of that first meeting between the two teams.
“I think we’re more bitter about letting him run for a hundred and whatever yards it was than anything about that,” Watt said. “I think we just really have a bad taste in our mouth. We want to wash it out with a good performance on Sunday.”
Watt knows what it will mean for him and his Steeler teammates if they all aren’t up to the task in Sunday’s rematch and he knows exactly what the team’s defense needs to do in order to help ensure a victory.
“Our sole focus is the Jacksonville Jaguars. If we don’t handle business this weekend there is no next weekend for us this year,” Watt said. “And so, I think we’re just going to out here, we’re going to try to stop the run just like we do every week and hopefully that makes the quarterback open up and throw.”
With that game plan in mind, Watt recognizes that Fournette has proven this season that he’s an NFL-caliber running back and that the Jaguars know exactly how to use him effectively.
“I think he’s just really sound runner and he knows how to finish off runs and he’s got a great line in front of him, and I think they just do a really good job of not only running early, but running throughout the whole game, Watt said. “They’re not going to go away from the run.”