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A win to appreciate

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Zach from Boston, MA:
Has anyone in the league played a tougher schedule than the Jaguars at this point in the season?

Vic: The Jaguars' opponents' won-loss record is 24-10, which makes the Jaguars' first six games of the season the toughest six-game opening stretch in the NFL. Here's the problem I have with that kind of analysis: Three of the top four records in the NFL belong to three teams in the bottom four of the strength of schedule standings. Cincinnati and Tampa, each 5-1, are tied with Carolina, 4-2, for the easiest opening schedule in the NFL; their opponents are 11-21. The team with the best record in the NFL, the 5-0 Colts, have had the third-easiest schedule in the NFL with an opponents record of 13-19. So, if you played a team that hasn't played anybody, what does that say? Know what you see. Don't let these stupid statistics govern your thoughts. Judge for yourself.

Shawn from Three Rivers, MI:
Can you tell me what you think of Leftwich's progress this year? He seems to be a little off the mark.

Vic: I called him out in our pregame radio show on Sunday. I said this one is on Byron Leftwich's shoulders. I believed that because I had no doubt the Steelers would have trouble scoring without Ben Roethlisberger and Hines Ward in the game. In my opinion, it was up to Leftwich to put points on the board. To that end, I was disappointed the Jaguars didn't score more points. The passing game was in full health and the offensive line provided time to throw. It was not Byron's best day. I expect better days to follow.

Mark from Wichita, KS:
As I watched Mathis stroll into the end zone, I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. After catching my breath after jumping up and down, I wondered about what would have happened in the upcoming week if we had lost. We'd be talking about the failed touchdown attempts at the one-yard line instead of Matt Jones' first touchdown reception. What do you think would have transpired this week concerning playoff implications, team morale and e-mails that you get to the website if we had lost?

Vic: That's a good question. It's a question I always ask myself after a game. I think it's necessary to understand the ramifications of a loss, to fully appreciate what you gained in victory. Had the Jaguars lost in Pittsburgh, they would've fallen out of division title contention with an Indianapolis win on Monday night. That would've been my opinion. A loss would've even left the Jaguars in a compromised state in the wild-card chase. Byron Leftwich would've been the target of harsh criticism for the interception he threw, Jack Del Rio would've been second-guessed all over the place for the fourth-down calls and the two trick plays, and the team would've gone into its bye week in a depressed state. This was a big, big win for the Jaguars.

Scott from Jacksonville:
Could Big Ben have come in to replace Maddox or would Batch have had to come in first?

Vic: Ben Roethlisberger was the Steelers' "third quarterback." That meant that had he entered the game prior to the start of the fourth quarter, neither Tommy Maddox nor Charlie Batch could've re-entered or entered the game. Had Roethlisberger entered the game in the fourth quarter, Maddox and Batch could've re-entered or entered the game. A team does not have to use the "third quarterback" designation. It can include as many quarterbacks as it pleases among its 45 active players. In Roethlisberger's case, it would seem Bill Cowher had made up his mind he wasn't going to use him; that he was going to allow Roethlisberger a week to recover from his knee injury. Cowher's postgame remarks suggest he may regret that decision. Roethlisberger appeared to be fully recovered in pregame and the Pittsburgh reporters to whom I spoke said Roethlisberger participated in Friday's practice and ran around as though there was nothing wrong with his knee.

Cole from Melbourne, FL:
How were the Jags able to get their field goal off before halftime if 10 seconds are supposed to be run off after an offensive penalty?

Vic: Had it been a holding penalty, there would've been a 10-second run-off and the half would've ended. It was, however, a false-start penalty, which is a dead-ball foul. There is no run-off on a dead-ball foul.

Cole from Tallahassee, FL:
Yet another Jaguars-Steelers game ending on a touchdown. Will this replace one of your current top six games?

Vic: That's a very astute observation. Thank you for reminding me. That now makes three Jaguars-Steelers games in which the final play of the game was a touchdown. Amazing! I don't know if this one's in my top six or not. I have to think about it. I can tell you that it won't replace either of the two 1997 games. Those are classics. I don't think yesterday's game fits into the classic category.

Zach from Kalamazoo, MI:
What do we have to think about Matt Jones' catching ability after his one-handed touchdown grab in the win yesterday? It reminded me of his Senior Bowl performance and I personally hope it is a sign of things to come.

Vic: Here are my two thoughts: 1.) Everyone constantly complains about Byron Leftwich's lack of touch, but that throw to Matt Jones had a Joe Montana-like touch to it. What happened to the 98 mph fastball complaints? 2.) A one-handed catch in that situation was not necessary and it almost cost the Jaguars a touchdown. Had Jones' foot come up before he put his second hand on that ball or demonstrated control, the Steelers' challenge would've been upheld. I thought that catch was a little too lackadaisical for my tastes; get two hands on the ball and get two feet down, now!

J.D. from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
The interception for a touchdown and the blocked punt by Rashean Mathis were special. Add in another play, catching Quincy Morgan to save a Steelers touchdown on the overtime kickoff, and he easily was the game's MVP. With those two special teams plays, would those count for a shot for AFC special teams player of the week as well as defensive player of the week?

Vic: Yes, in my opinion, they would. Nobody in this league is playing a better brand of cornerback than Mathis. He may be the Jaguars' best player. By the way, a few weeks ago I was getting a lot of e-mails from people complaining that Mathis was being used on special teams. I didn't get any complaints this morning.

Daniel from Jacksonville:
Do you think Jacksonville will finally get some more respect and recognition from the league? Holding the Steelers to 73 rushing yards and under 230 total yards on offense is a huge accomplishment. Something is telling me, however, that more than a few people will just ignore the victory and call it a fluke because Big Ben and Hines Ward weren't in the game. What are your thoughts?

Vic: I think you're right. That's why it's important to keep this run going.

Mike from Jacksonville:
It seems to me Greg Jones only carried the ball once or twice in the second half against the Steelers. Why did the Jaguars run Pearman after Jones was so effective in the first half?

Vic: I don't know the answer to that, other than to say the Jaguars like Alvin Pearman and think he adds some wiggle and all-around ability to their backfield. The other thing is that I thought the Steelers were starting to get a handle on Jones in the second quarter. He only gained 15 yards on seven carries in the second quarter. They had never seen him before and had very little tape on him.

David from Jacksonville:
Going for it early on a fourth-and-two while in field goal range? Shooting for the end zone twice at the end of regulation while in field goal range? Did Del Rio forget we have a pretty good placekicker? That coupled with penalties, the game was almost lost. I didn't even bring up the trick play late with Matt Jones. What was that?

Vic: Jack Del Rio wanted to be aggressive. He wanted to challenge his players. In the final analysis, you have to stand on the results. Did they work? If they didn't, a coach has to make a decision whether to continue to challenge his players or take the path of least resistance. It's a scoreboard business, isn't it?

Keith from Jacksonville:
Gotta give it to you, the Jaguars stopped the run, just like you said. You are always right when it comes to football. I don't care what everybody else says.

Vic: I am not always right when it comes to football. I am wrong lots of times. This was a no-brainer. The Jaguars have two Pro-Bowl defensive tackles. In a game in which the Jaguars literally had no fear of pass, stopping the run was just a matter of how many men in the box it would take.

Kevin from Virginia Beach, VA:
Is 21 the magic number for the Jaguars? They are 4-0 when scoring 21 or more points and have yet to allow their opponent to score more than 20 in a game.

Vic: Let's keep our eye on that number. You may have something.

John from Jacksonville:
From what I'm hearing, the contention with the city of Jacksonville is over the profit made from the electronic signs inside the stadium during events such as the Florida-Georgia game, the Gator Bowl game, etc. If I am reading correctly, the Jaguars paid for the new signs. I am sure I don't have all of the facts. The only thing I do know is that I wouldn't want to be John Peyton and have my administration be remembered for losing an NFL franchise to Los Angeles. I do not have a short memory. I remember how hard this city and the Weavers worked to get an NFL franchise here. In your opinion, are we in serious jeopardy of losing our Jags?

Vic: It is such a preposterous notion that I still can't take it seriously, but every time the City decides to flex its muscles in negotiations I can't help consider the possibility. I appreciate and respect the negotiations process, but what I don't like is the little trick the mayor and his consultant tried to pull on the Jaguars on Sept. 10. The previous day, the mayor phoned Wayne Weaver and presented a $9.6 million rent-credit figure in exchange for the signage for Alltel Stadium's four major non-Jaguars events. Weaver agreed and the mayor said a proposal would be e-mailed to the Jaguars the following day. It was, but the proposal also included several items the Jaguars had already rejected. How insulting! Did the mayor really think the Jaguars were so stupid they wouldn't find those little "raisins" in the cookie? The mayor knew the Jaguars wouldn't accept that proposal. Why even bother with the phone call?

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