There are those who believe Bill Cowher will be walking the sideline at Alltel Stadium on Monday night for the final time as Steelers coach. Most prominently, Jerome Bettis believes that, and if "The Bus" believes it, then so do I.
OK, this may be it for coach Cowher (pronounced "Kawr" in Pittsburghese, as in "Kawr Pawr"). I think I feel a tear beginning to well in the corner of my eye.
When I think of coach Kawr callin' it quits in da burgh, a lot of things come to mind. I remember sitting in front of him at the press conference in the winter of 1992 that announced him as the team's next head coach. Coach Kawr was a lot younger then. So was I and that's the thing that really makes me cry.
I think of the first time I heard coach Kawr say, "That's a big play," – try imitating him, spray and all; it's fun – and the tear starts to roll down my cheek.
You know what else I think about? I think about that Monday night in 1997 at Alltel Stadium, when coach Kawr drew back his hand in mock punch as Chris Hudson ran by him en route to a game-clinching touchdown return of a blocked field goal attempt.
I think about that Sunday night two years ago when coach Kawr brought a rookie quarterback to Alltel Stadium. I remember that rookie quarterback taking his Steelers down the field inside the two-minute warning, and coach Kawr catching us all off guard when, on third down, he gave his rookie quarterback the that's-all signal, and we watched as the clock helplessly melted.
Coach Kawr has been very, very good to the development of professional football in Jacksonville, because he and his team have given the Jaguars some of the greatest and most memorable experiences in their history. The Jaguars literally defined themselves by beating the Steelers early. Even as recently as last year, it was a win over the Steelers that was the highlight of the Jaguars' season.
If this is goodbye, and "The Bus" says it is, then Monday night's game has, yet, another ingredient for drama.
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Steelers.
- Stop the run—It always starts with that against the Steelers.
- Make it All-teal Stadium—There will be some yellow towels, but they must be adrift in a sea of teal.
- Protect the quarterback—It worked against the Cowboys, didn't it?
- Hit 'em where they hurt—Nothing hurts the Steelers' pride more than having the ball run down their throats.
- Beware of screens—They love to screen, with backs, tight ends and even wide receivers.
- Make big plays—That's how you beat the Steelers. Ask Rashean Mathis.
- Reach into your bag—Teams that trick don't like to be tricked.
- Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy—Byron Leftwich fit the ball into very small windows against the Cowboys, and he was very accurate against the Steelers two years ago. He needs to do it again.
- Up the tempo—That's always been the formula for beating the Steelers in the Jacksonville September heat.
- Press special teams advantage—The Jaguars should enjoy a huge advantage on "teams." This will be a field-position game.