The Jacksonville Jaguars came into Pittsburgh last year and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on their home grass twice in the same season. The last team to do that was all the way back in 2007 when…the Jaguars did it. But the Steelers won the three contests between the two teams in the middle of that period.
The Jaguars won’t have the chance to duplicate that feat this year, since they host the Steelers on Sunday in Jacksonville and, frankly, even if they sneak into the postseason, it’s highly unlikely it would be via division-winner status. Still, that doesn’t give Ben Roethlisberger any comfort in what he still sees as one of the very best defenses in the NFL.
“From front to back, they’re really good. Really fast”, he told reporters yesterday about the Steelers’ upcoming opponent. “A lot of teams, we say, it starts up front with their pass rush, and this group has an unbelievable pass rush with their front four. Their linebackers are some of the fastest that you’ll ever play against, and their secondary is as good a secondary that you’re going to play. So there’s really nowhere to start and finish with this group, they’re just that good. So this will definitely be the biggest challenge for us”.
Their defense held the Steelers without a touchdown in the regular season meeting back in Week Five, intercepting Roethlisberger five times, returning two of those for touchdowns. He did fare much better in the playoff rematch, but that was while playing from a significant deficit.
“There was respect last time we played them”, he said when asked about comments that certain former teammates made heading into the postseason game. “There is no doubt, at least from me; certain players, I know we heard a lot going into it from other players and whatnot, but for me I respect this whole group”.
As for the disparity between the quality of their team and the reality of their record, Roethlisberger told reporters that he believes their win-loss record is “very” deceiving and noted that they are now playing a division-winner’s schedule. “They have a bullseye on their chest now”, he added, and are getting every team’s best, so “I’m not looking at their record”.
I can’t help but wonder if Jalen Ramsey’s opinion of Roethlisberger has changed since he decided to comment on just about every quarterback in the league this offseason. His team is on a five-game losing streak, and he has been awfully quiet during that time. Still, he commands the utmost respect from his upcoming opponents.