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Old 01-03-2008, 01:35 AM   #1
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Default Jaguars a thorn in Steelers side


Jaguars a thorn in Steelers' side
AFC Wild-Card Weekend: Steelers vs. Jaguars
Thursday, January 03, 2008
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The expansion Jaguars celebrate over Neil O'Donnell in 1995.JACKSONVILLE

You probably know that Jacksonville Jaguars running back Fred Taylor has tortured the Steelers a time or two over the years. Who doesn't know that?

But did you know that the Jaguars' stadium doesn't have one of those stiff brand names, so bad is the corporate support of the team here? What once was Alltel Stadium now is Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.

You probably also know the Jaguars have caused the Steelers more grief in the past dozen years than any NFL team aside from the New England Patriots. But did you know that the Jaguars had to black out three games on local television this season because they couldn't sell out? Can you say the Los Angeles Jaguars?

That's why the game the Jaguars and Steelers will play Saturday night at Heinz Field is a bit more meaningful to the visiting team than an ordinary playoff game. A win and an extended postseason run could go a long way toward securing the Jaguars' future here. But a loss? Another one-and-done like after the 2005 season when the Jaguars lost at New England in their only playoff appearance since 1999? Who knows?

"Yes, we're playing for the organization, ourselves and our families," Jaguars defensive end Paul Spicer said. "But we're also playing for this community. ... When you win, everybody is happy."

There's no chance the Jaguars will be intimidated by the manic scene that will be waiting for them Saturday night, but they wouldn't be human if they aren't a little in awe and a lot envious of the crowd support.

The football culture in Pittsburgh is different than it is here. A lot of people reading this don't have a clue what an NFL blackout is. But just because the Steelers sell out every game and always are on television doesn't mean it works that way in every city.

The Jaguars almost certainly would have had their fourth blackout of the season Dec. 23 against Oakland if not for their stunningly easy win against the Steelers at Heinz Field the week before.

That game opened a lot of eyes across America. Suddenly, people were saying the Jaguars are the one team no one wants to play in the playoffs and the team with the best chance of ending the Patriots' dream season.

But first things first -- that game Saturday night.

The Jaguars swear they won't be overconfident despite the 29-22 licking they put on the Steelers Dec. 16.

"Nobody in his right mind is overlooking the Pittsburgh team," offensive tackle Khalif Barnes said, huffing.

And this from Spicer: "Beating Pittsburgh is no cakewalk. You guys can say that, but we're the ones down in the trenches. We know better."

Those sentiments aside, they made it look awfully easy against the Steelers a few weeks ago. They ran for 224 yards, getting 147 from Taylor and 69 from backup Maurice Jones-Drew, the two best individual rushing performances against the Steelers this season. Taylor's total was a Heinz Field record by an opposing back.

The Jaguars also beat the Steelers here last season and in Pittsburgh in 2005, which leads us back to another round of did you know?

Did you know that former Steelers coach Bill Cowher had an 8-10 record against Jacksonville?

The Patriots might have broken Cowher's and the Steelers' hearts by winning two AFC championship games in Pittsburgh, but the Jaguars are one of only two teams -- Tennessee is the other -- to have Cowher's number when more than five games were played in the series.

The Jaguars were 1-4 in their expansion season in 1995 when they shocked the Super Bowl-bound Steelers.

The next season, the Jaguars beat the Steelers in the opening game of the season. Cowher benched starting quarterback Jim Miller at halftime and linebacker Greg Lloyd was lost for the year with a knee injury.

The season after that, 1997, the Jaguars beat the Steelers again on a night when Cowher looked as if he was going to come off the sideline to tackle the Jaguars' Chris Hudson as Hudson returned a blocked field goal for the clinching touchdown.

You bet the Jaguars have caused the Steelers a lot of grief.

Taylor has been responsible for much of it. It wasn't just that exceptional performance Dec. 16, when he scored the winning touchdown on a 12-yard run with 1:57 left. On Nov. 19, 2000, he set a Three Rivers Stadium rushing record with 234 yards in the Jaguars' 34-24 win.

"If you think about the past, you're not going anywhere in the future," Spicer said.

That doesn't change the fact that Spicer, Taylor and the Jaguars have a big chance to torment the Steelers once more and make history doing it. No team has beaten the Steelers twice in Pittsburgh in the same season.

"I'm not worried about history. I'm worried about right now," Spicer said. "I know one thing -- we're going to prepare and get ready to fly up there on Friday and get our rest and get up on Saturday and get ready to kick some butt."

And maybe, just maybe, help to save a franchise in the process.
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Old 01-03-2008, 02:17 AM   #2
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Default Re: Jaguars a thorn in Steelers side

Thanks for linking/posting the article....

I'd say it's time the Steelers return the grief!


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Old 01-03-2008, 02:25 AM   #3
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Default Re: Jaguars a thorn in Steelers side

Tell us something we don't already know.

This current losing streak against the Jagoffs reminds me of those bad times in the late 90's when Mark Brunell and Co. would beat up on Pittsburgh most of the time.

That said, I'm sick and tired of losing to the Faguars and it has to end, now. Thanks to the schedule cycle, we'll see them again next year.
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Old 01-03-2008, 04:03 AM   #4
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Default Re: Jaguars a thorn in Steelers side

It's time to turn this series around come saturday night.
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Old 01-03-2008, 10:00 AM   #5
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Default Re: Jaguars a thorn in Steelers side

Anybody know the injury status?
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Old 01-03-2008, 10:16 AM   #6
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Default Re: Jaguars a thorn in Steelers side

Originally Posted by Jman View Post
Anybody know the injury status?
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Old 01-03-2008, 09:19 PM   #7
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Default Re: Jaguars a thorn in Steelers side

Most of these loses were unprepared Bill Cowher Teams. Mike has a chance to right the ship Saturday. No Excuses!!!! Stop the run.
Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." - Vince Lombardi
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Old 01-04-2008, 11:35 AM   #8
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Default Re: Jaguars a thorn in Steelers side

Those were some great games ehhhhhh. Well from a Jaguars fan standpoint they were great. You guys also should remember 97 in Three Rivers as the Steelers won in overtime as they marched slowly down the field in Overtime. How about the two interception return game in 98 at Three Rivers. The 04 game in Jacksonville as Pittsburgh took our heart out with a last second drive. So both sides have games we would like to forget. However this is the best rivarly for Jacksonville since arriving in 95. Tom Coughlin made it a point to measure his teams against the Steelers and it worked. Yes even one more next year in Jacksonville........
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