Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4)
Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014
1 p.m.; CBS
SERIES HISTORY: Jaguars lead, 12-10 (1-0 postseason). Jacksonville is 7-4 against Pittsburgh in Jacksonville. The Steelers have won the past two meetings.
LAST MEETING**: Steelers 17, Jaguars 13, Oct. 16, 2011, Heinz Field: The Steelers failed to score in the second half but were still able to make a 17-3 halftime lead stand up. Pittsburgh produced a season-high 185 yards on the ground on the way to 370 total net yards. The Steelers held the Jaguars to 209 total net yards and registered five sacks, including two each by OLB LaMarr Woodley and DE Brett Keisel.
LAST WEEK: The Steelers failed to run the clock out late and then allowed a five-play, 46-yard drive in the closing seconds and lost to Tampa Bay at home, 27-24. The Jaguars were beaten at San Diego, 33-14, and have been outscored, 152-58, on the season, including 84-20 in second halves.
WHEN THE JAGUARS HAVE THE BALL: Rookie QB Blake Bortles figures to be on the move when attempting to throw it. Bortles wasn't shy about stepping up in the pocket and/or rolling left or right (especially left) to escape the pass rush while in the process of letting it fly in his first NFL start last Sunday. He's been sacked four times on 61 attempts (Jaguars quarterbacks have been dropped an NFL-high 20 times overall). Bortles also has kept the ball on the read-option.
It's possible a pair of rookies will start at WR (Allen Robinson for fellow rookie Marquise Lee and Allen Hurns for Cecil Shorts). Robinson and Hurns started at San Diego, which upped the number of rookie starters to five (Bortles, C Luke Bowanko, LG Brandon Linder being the other three). Bortles seems to be developing a rapport with Robinson, but the ball is rarely thrown down the field regardless of the intended target. TE Clay Harbor made his 2014 debut at San Diego and had a team-high eight catches for 64 yards.
Jacksonville is No. 24 in passing offense, No. 30 in rushing and No. 31 in total offense. RB Toby Gerhart, a 6-foot, 231-pound, straight-ahead runner, scored Jacksonville's first rushing touchdown since last November vs. San Diego. RB Denard Robinson (6-0, 197) has shown some athleticism while making the transition from college quarterback, but the 25 yards he gained on the ground at San Diego constituted a career-high.
The Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
WHEN THE STEELERS HAVE THE BALL**: They'll have to deal with another up-the-field front four that goes eight deep (former Steelers No. 1 pick Ziggy Hood is in the rotation at defensive tackle). The Jaguars like to crowd the line of scrimmage and deploy a single-high safety (FS Josh Evans). SS Johnathan Cyprien will also drop back into a Cover-2 look. Evans made his first start at San Diego in place of Winston Guy (since released). Evans and Cyprien are second-year players.
Cornerback has been an issue along with safety on what statistically is the NFL's worst pass defense (Jacksonville is also No. 32 in total defense). CB Dwayne Gratz suffered a concussion at San Diego (Demetrius McCray would get the start in Gratz' place). Opponents consistently have played pitch-and-catch against the Jacksonville secondary. San Diego WR Eddie Royal scored on 47- and 43-yard receptions last Sunday. LBs Paul Posluszny and Geno Hayes are willing run-stuffers but also have been susceptible to play-action, further complicating the Jaguars' issues defending the pass.
Jacksonville is tied for second in the NFL with 12 sacks, but five of those came in the first half of the opener at Philadelphia.
SPECIAL-TEAMS HEADLINERS: Jaguars P Bryan Anger had a gross average of 56.0 and a net average of 45.0 on two punts at San Diego. Steelers P Brad Wing had a 29-yard punt that set up Tampa Bay at the Steelers' 46-yard line with 40 seconds remaining.
THE X-FACTOR: Jacksonville has 12 players who were on the roster when GM Dave Caldwell took over on Jan. 8, 2013 and 23 players new to the roster this season. There are young players and new players seemingly everywhere. How quickly can they mesh together and become a team?
THEY SAID IT: "He's definitely somebody I've been compared to a lot. He's won two Super Bowls and had all kinds of success and I've played a game and a half, so I don't know how much comparison there is there. But as far as playing type, I think a big guy who can move around a little bit; he's definitely somebody that I try to model some things I do after." – Bortles on comparisons to Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.
"It's a shame when you beat yourself. We just lost to one of the worst NFL teams in our house. We blew the game. We feel embarrassed. We feel ashamed. We gotta work to get better." – Steelers WR Antonio Brown on last Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay.