No hid­ing for Bor­tles today

Steel­ers won’t let QB run wild again

Sunday Sports - - SPORTS - Jokryk@post­media.com @JohnKryk JOHN KRYK

and two touch­downs on 28 car­ries. As a team, the Jags gained 231 rush­ing yards – the club’s most since 2010.

“We out-phys­i­caled them that first game,” backup Jaguars de­fen­sive end Dante Fowler Jr. said. “We could tell that, and I think they could tell too ... So I know that they’re go­ing to be ready and they’re go­ing come with their A-game, so we’ve just got to be ready too.

“But they’ve had a week off. They’re rested. They have great play­ers … We’ve got to be ready.”

So much is right­fully be­ing made about that first meet­ing in Oc­to­ber. Jack­sonville nose tackle Abry Jones said this game will be dif­fer­ent, how­ever it plays out.

“Nei­ther one of us is the same team as Week 5. We’ve both got to go back to the draw­ing board,” Jones said.

The Jaguars would ad­vance to the AFC cham­pi­onship for the first time in 18 years if they win Sun­day.

Few are ex­pect­ing them to do that. But the Jags want the sweep, in part to prove Oc­to­ber’s win was no fluke.

PITTS­BURGH — One thing over­looked in Jack­sonville’s im­pres­sive 30-9 win over the Steel­ers in Pitts­burgh was the role of Jaguars quar­ter­back Blake Bor­tles. As in, what role? He threw only 14 passes on the day, and only once af­ter half­time. The 2014 No. 3 over­all draft pick com­pleted eight for 95 yards, no touch­downs and one in­ter­cep­tion.

Oth­er­wise, he just kept hand­ing the ball off, mostly to Leonard Four­nette, who blud­geoned a proud Steel­ers de­fence for 181 yards.

So min­i­miz­ing the role of one of the NFL’s most in­con­sis­tent passers will never be a bad thing.

But it’s highly un­likely his role will be any­where near as in­signif­i­cant in Sun­day’s re­match at Heinz Field, with a berth in the AFC cham­pi­onship on the line.

Bor­tles had a great line this week when asked about all the never-sub­sid­ing crit­i­cism that ham­mers him weekly.

“It’ll prob­a­bly never stop,” the quar­ter­back said. “There’s peo­ple who think LeBron James sucks. So if that hap­pens, I’m sure there will al­ways be peo­ple who al­ways think I suck.”

In Jack­sonville’s AFC wild-card win over the vis­it­ing Buf­falo Bills, Bor­tles was so off with his passes, he re­solved to move the chains how­ever pos­si­ble.

So he pulled down the ball and ran. And ran. And ran. Un­til end­ing the game with more rush­ing yards (89) than pass­ing yards (88). He was only the third QB in NFL play­off his­tory to win a game that way.

Steel­ers de­fend­ers this week vowed not to dis­re­gard Bor­tles’ pass­ing abil­ity. He’s streaky, and can hurt any de­fence when in the groove.

“He’s a guy that can def­i­nitely get hot,” Steel­ers cor­ner­back Cam Sut­ton said.

“When they get that run game go­ing, it makes his job that much eas­ier. Then (de­fences) are sit­ting on the run and teams are sneak­ing on over routes, pick routes.

“At var­i­ous times through­out the year he’s looked re­ally good. He’s had some good pass­ing games. A lot of teams sleep on his mo­bil­ity.” Well, ex­cept Pitts­burgh this time out. “We’re not go­ing to let him beat us with his feet,” safety Sean Davis said.

GETTY IM­AGES

South­erner Abry Jones doesn’t mind con­ced­ing that, yeah, it’s go­ing to be cold in Pitts­burgh for today’s AFC play­off tilt.

AP

When he can, Jaguars QB Blake Bor­tles will use his legs to mask a poor pass­ing per­for­mance. The Steel­ers won’t al­low that today.

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