Steel­ers are wary of Jaguars in high-stakes re­match

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Sports - By Will Graves The As­so­ci­ated Press

PITTS­BURGH » At the time the score looked like a mis­print.

Jack­sonville 30. Pitts­burgh 9. On the road. A re­sult so stun­ningly one-sided Steel­ers quar­ter­back Ben Roeth­lis­berger stood in the locker room on that gray Oc­to­ber af­ter­noon only half-jok­ingly won­der­ing if he still had “it.”

Throw­ing five in­ter­cep­tions, two of which the Jaguars re­turned for mo­men­tum-swing­ing, con­fi­dence­sap­ping touch­downs, will do that.

Yet Roeth­lis­berger in­sists he’s not out for re­venge in the re­match on Sun­day when the Jaguars (11-6) visit Heinz Field in the divi­sional round with a trip to the AFC ti­tle game on the line.

There’s too much at stake for him to set­tle some sort of per­sonal vendetta. Or so he says. “I’ll play any­one in the post­sea­son,” Roeth­lis­berger said.

Only Jack­sonville isn’t “any­one.” Not any­more. Not af­ter the NFL’s top-ranked de­fense proved that break­out per­for­mance three months ago was a sign of things to come.

The Jaguars don’t play a par­tic­u­larly pretty brand of foot­ball. They also don’t par­tic­u­larly care.

Doubt them all you want. Mock their of­fense at your leisure.

Last they checked, there will be 24 teams watch­ing the play­offs this week­end and Jack­sonville isn’t one of them.

“We’ve just got to score one more point than they do,” Jaguars quar­ter­back Blake Bor­tles said.

“It doesn’t mat­ter who scores it, where it comes from, how we do it, what it looks like, we score one more than them and I’m happy with how we did it.”

Bor­tles and the other 52 guys on the ros­ter might be the only ones.

The Steel­ers (13-3) en­tered the sea­son as one of the fa­vorites to reach the Su­per Bowl.

De­spite a fall filled with drama (much of it self-cre­ated) Pitts­burgh was really only pushed around once. By the Jaguars.

Take Jack­sonville lightly at your peril, some­thing the Steel­ers found out on Oct. 8.

“Some peo­ple come in think­ing a team may be eas­ier by their record or tougher by their record, but we know that can’t be on our mind,” Pitts­burgh run­ning back Le’Veon Bell said.

“I think that kind of got us in the first game be­cause the Jack­sonville Jaguars, they’re nor­mally not a good team but those guys got play­ers this year. They’ve been mak­ing plays.” AB’S BACK» Pitts­burgh Al­lPro wide re­ceiver An­to­nio Brown is ex­pected to play af­ter miss­ing the fi­nal 2 ½ games of the reg­u­lar sea­son with a left calf con­tu­sion. Brown prac­ticed all week, though he was sent home on Fri­day be­cause of an ill­ness.

Brown caught 10 passes for 157 yards in the first meet­ing with Jack­sonville.

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