Stopping the run: Rookie T.J. Watt is among 13 players ready to experience their first postseason game on Sunday when the Steelers take on the Jaguars at Heinz Field in the AFC Divisional Round, and it's something he is ready for.
"I am excited to get back out there at Heinz Field in front of Steelers Nation," said Watt. "It's going to be a fun time."
For it to be the experience he really wants, though, Watt knows it will have to be a much different game than it was in the regular season when the Steelers lost to the Jaguars, 30-9, at Heinz Field.
"Obviously, the game didn't go the way we wanted it to," said Watt. "We know the reasons why. We couldn't stop the run early on and it bled throughout the game. I think first and foremost we have to stop the run and that will allow us to open it up and get after the passer.* *"Growing up, you know as a defense you have to stop the run. If you don't and they get three or four yards a pop in the run game, they won't have to pass at all. It's crucial for us to stop the run. They stick to the run throughout the whole game, so it's not like we are going to shut it down early and they are just going to pass for the rest of the game. We have to stop it throughout all four quarters."
In that earlier meeting Leonard Fournette had 28 carries for 181 yards, including a 90-yard touchdown run late in the game.
"I feel like we could have contained him lot better," said Watt. "Any time they go over 100 yards rushing on our defense, we feel like that is disrespectful and we want to make sure we fix that. That is why we will come out this week and try to stop the run the best we can."
All the marbles:** Another playoff first-timer is Joe Haden, who never played in the postseason in his seven seasons with the Cleveland Browns. Haden is hoping for a long postseason run, and understands there is no margin for error with so much on the line.
"We know this is single elimination," said Haden. "You have to put all of your marbles out there. We have to understand every play, everything matters. Making tackles, communication, stopping the run. There are a lot of things. We have to be on our Ps and Qs. Big plays here are a lot different than the regular season."
Business as usual: Yes, this week is a little bit different than those they have had throughout the regular season. After all, it's the playoffs. But the vibe you get at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex lets you know that they are treating this week the same as any other.
"The way we go about our day to day business is no different as far as our preparation, our attention to detail," said Mike Mitchell. "If you are changing those things at this time of year, you weren't preparing right in the first place. The thing that we do a great job here is we treat every game like it's important, as a must win, so when we get in games that are important and must wins, it's business as usual."