JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (2-2)
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (0-3)
Sunday, October 1, 2000, 1:00 p.m. EDT
ALLTEL Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla.
THIS WEEK: Following a 43-14 loss on Monday night to the Indianapolis Colts, the Jacksonville Jaguars return home and will attempt to get back on track against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team they have not only beaten three consecutive games, but one that hasn't scored a touchdown against them in that time. Kickoff for the Jaguars' second home game of the season is 1:00 p.m. EDT Sunday at ALLTEL Stadium, where the Jaguars have won 30 of their last 34 games.
The Jaguars are 2-2 and one game out of first place in the AFC Central Division. They have a current streak of 58 consecutive weeks at or above the break-even mark, which is just four weeks fewer than Miami's league-best streak of 62 weeks. The last time the Jaguars were below .500 was Week 15 of the 1996 season, when they were 6-7 and in the midst of a five-game winning streak that sent them to the playoffs for the first time. That was also the last time the Jaguars were as low as third place in the AFC Central Division, which is where they currently find themselves.
The Jaguars have the best home record in the NFL over the last four-plus seasons, with a 29-4 mark that is half a game better than Green Bay (29-5). The Jaguars also have the best record in the NFL over the last three-plus seasons. Their 38-14 record in that time is half a game better than Minnesota.
TELEVISION BROADCAST: The Jaguars-Steelers game will be televised regionally by CBS and locally by WJXT Channel 4, with Kevin Harlan calling the play-by-play, Randy Cross adding analysis and Beasley Reece as the sideline reporter.
RADIO BROADCAST: All of the Jaguars' games are broadcast on WOKV (690 AM), WBWL (600 AM) and WKQL (96.9 FM) and the Jaguars Radio Network. Brian Sexton calls the play-by-play, former NFL quarterback Matt Robinson adds analysis and Dan Hicken is the sideline reporter. Sexton and Robinson are in their sixth season together. Robinson, Jennifer Candelino, Vic Ketchman and Cole Pepper handle the pre-game show, and Pepper and ex-Oakland Raider Pete Banaszak do the post-game show. A total of 18 affiliates in three states on the Jaguars Radio Network will also broadcast the game. The radio broadcast is also simulcast live worldwide on the Jaguars' Official Website, jaguars.com, and on nfl.com.
THE OPPONENT: The fifth-oldest franchise in the NFL, the Steelers have been members of the NFL since 1933, when they were founded by Art Rooney as the Pittsburgh Pirates. They made their first playoff appearance in 1947, losing to the Chicago Cardinals, and their second in 1962, then didn't make the playoffs again until 1972 after coach Chuck Noll had arrived. Behind Noll and seven other Hall of Famers, the Steelers developed into one of the NFL's true dynasties. They won four Super Bowls (1974, 1975, 1978 and 1979), then made the postseason only once in seven years from 1985 to '91. They have advanced to the playoffs five times in the last seven years under Bill Cowher, playing in the AFC championship game in 1994 and '97 and the Super Bowl in 1995. The Steelers have won the AFC Central Division in five of Cowher's eight seasons as head coach. In 1997, they finished 11-5 and tied with the Jaguars but won the division on the fifth tiebreaker. In 1998, the Steelers finished 7-9, and in '99 they were 6-10. They are 0-3 so far this year.
THE SERIES: This is the 11th game between the Jaguars and the Steelers, with the Jaguars holding a 6-4 lead in the series. The Jaguars have won the last three games, holding the Steelers to 12 points and no touchdowns in those games, while scoring 58 points. The home team won the first eight games, until Jacksonville swept the series in 1999. The Jaguars won the first meeting in 1995 20-16 and then lost at Pittsburgh 24-7. In 1996, the Jaguars won the season opener between the two teams 24-9 and then lost at Three Rivers Stadium 28-3. In 1997, Jacksonville won 30-21 on "Monday Night Football" and then lost 23-17 in overtime in the rematch at Pittsburgh. In 1998, the Steelers won 30-15 in Pittsburgh, and Jacksonville won 21-3 at home on Monday night, December 28. Last year, the Jaguars won 17-3 on October 3 at Pittsburgh and 20-6 on Dec. 2 at ALLTEL Stadium.
THE LAST TIME: The Jaguars swept the Steelers for the first time ever after defeating them 20-6 in their first appearance on "Thursday Night Football" on December 2, 1999. The victory was Jacksonville's franchise-record ninth straight and gave them an 11-1 record, tying the team mark for most wins in a season. The Jaguars outgained the Steelers 466 yards to 235, and, for the first time in franchise history, they had a player rush for 100 yards, two receivers catch passes for 100 yards each and a quarterback throw for 300 yards. James Stewart ran for 145 yards on 30 carries - his career highs as a Jaguar - and scored a touchdown. Jimmy Smith tied his then-career high with 10 catches for 124 yards and a score, and Keenan McCardell caught five passes for 113 yards. Mark Brunell completed 25 of 37 passes for 308 yards and his third consecutive 300-yard passing game, another first.
A JAGUARS VICTORY OVER THE STEELERS WOULD: Give the Jaguars their fourth straight win over the Steelers and a3-2 record so far in 2000. It would also be their 18th win in their last 23 division games.
INJURY UPDATE: Injured in the Indianapolis game were: SS Rayna Stewart (knee), C John Wade (foot) and DE Joel Smeenge (calf). Missing the game with injuries were: LB Brant Boyer (groin), PK Mike Hollis (back), DT Emarlos Leroy (calf) and OT Leon Searcy (quadriceps). The status of all players will be updated during the week.
THE COACHES: Jacksonville head coach Tom Coughlin (51-33 in regular season, 4-4 in postseason) has led the Jaguars to two consecutive AFC Central Division championships and two appearances in the AFC Championship game. The Jaguars have made the playoffs each of the last four seasons - a first for an NFL expansion team and one of only two teams in the NFL to do so (along with Minnesota). In 1999, the Jaguars had the best record in the NFL (14-2), advancing to the conference championship game before losing to Tennessee. In 1998, Coughlin guided them to their first AFC Central Division championship with an 11-5 record. They defeated the New England Patriots in a Wild-Card game before losing to the New York Jets in the Divisional playoffs. In 1997, the Jaguars were 11-5 and finished second in the AFC Central, and they were defeated by Denver in the Wild-Card playoffs. In their second season in 1996, the Jaguars advanced all the way to the AFC Championship game, finishing the regular season in second place in the division with a 9-7 record. In the playoffs, the Jaguars upset the Bills and Broncos on the road before losing at New England. In 1995, the Jaguars finished with four victories in their inaugural season. Coughlin became head coach of the Jaguars on February 21, 1994 following three successful seasons as head coach at Boston College. He compiled a record of 21-13-1 from 1991 to '93 at Boston College, and had two appearances in bowl games and a ranking of 13th in the final AP poll of 1993. A veteran of 30 years of coaching, he was previously an NFL assistant coach with the New York Giants (wide receivers, 1988-90), Green Bay Packers (wide receivers and passing game coordinator 1986-87) and Philadelphia Eagles (wide receivers, 1984-85).
In his first six years as head coach in Pittsburgh, Bill Cowher guided the Steelers to six consecutive playoff appearances, a feat matched only by Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown. Last year, the Steelers missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season. The 1997 Steelers finished 11-5, winning their fourth consecutive AFC Central Division championship. In 1995, Cowher led Pittsburgh to the AFC championship and Super Bowl XXX, losing to Dallas 27-17. In 1994, the team overcame a 3-4 start and advanced to the AFC Championship Game. The Steelers won 53 regular-season games in Cowher's first five seasons (1992-96), which tied for third highest among coaches in their first five NFL seasons. In his second season, the Steelers appeared in the 1993 AFC playoffs as a wild-card entry. He was NFL coach of the year in 1992, his first season, after bringing the AFC Central Division title to Pittsburgh for the first time in eight years. Cowher served as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the Chiefs (1989-1991) after four seasons as an assistant at Cleveland (1985-88). He began his NFL career as a free-agent linebacker with the Philadelphia Eagles (1979). He played three seasons for the Cleveland Browns (1980-82) before being traded back to Philadelphia (1983-84). Cowher was a three-year starter at linebacker for North Carolina State (1976-78). He was the team's captain and most valuable player as a senior. He has an all-time record of 77-54 during the regular season and 5-6 in the playoffs.
JACKSONVILLE-PITTSBURGH CONNECTIONS: Steelers offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride held the same job with the Jaguars in 1995 and '96, and Jaguars defensive coordinator Dom Capers held the same position with Pittsburgh from 1992 to '94. … The Jaguars have four former Steelers on their roster: MLB Hardy Nickerson, G Brenden Stai, S Carnell Lake (on injured reserve) and OT Leon Searcy (out with a quadriceps injury) … There are two former Jaguars on the Steelers: G/C Tom Myslinski (an original Jaguar in 1995) and G Rich Tylski (Jaguars practice squad in 1995 and active roster 1996-99) … Two Steelers have ties to the state of Florida: LB Earl Holmes (Tallahassee, Florida A&M) and OT Wayne Gandy (Haines City) … Five Jaguars have ties to the state of Pennsylvania: CB Aaron Beasley (Pottstown), TE Kyle Brady (New Cumberland and Penn State), TE Greg DeLong (Orefield), S Mike Logan (McKeesport) and RB Stacey Mack (Temple) … Jaguars special teams coordinator Frank Gansz was born in Altoona … Jaguars TE coach Fred Hoaglin started at center and linebacker at the University of Pittsburgh … Jaguars RB coach Jerald Ingram grew up in Beaver … Jaguars DL coach John Pease was born in Pittsburgh … Jaguars director of player personnel Rick Reiprish was born in Shamokin … Jaguars WR coach John McNulty was born in Scranton and played safety at Penn State … Steelers TE coach Mike Mularkey was born in Ft. Lauderdale and attended the University of Florida. ... Players who were college teammates include: Jaguars TE Kyle Brady and Steelers FB Jon Witman at Penn State, Jaguars QB Mark Brunell and Steelers TE Mark Bruener, and Jaguars DE David Richie and Steelers LB John Fiala at different times at Washington, Jaguars DT Renaldo Wynn and Steelers RB Jerome Bettis and WR Malcolm Johnson at Notre Dame, Jaguars LB Brant Boyer and TE Rich Griffith and Steelers P Josh Miller at Arizona, Jaguars PK Steve Lindsey and Steelers NT Kendrick Clancy at Mississippi, Jaguars DT Gary Walker and Steelers OT Wayne Gandy at Auburn, Jaguars CB Jason Craft and S Erik Olson and Steelers LB Clark Haggans and OLB Joey Porter at Colorado State, Jaguars CB Fernando Bryant and Steelers CB Deshea Townsend at Alabama, Jaguars DT Emarlos Leroy and Steelers WR Hines Ward at Georgia and Jaguars DBs Aaron Beasley and Mike Logan and Steelers RB Amos Zereoue at West Virginia.
JAGUARS VS. STEELERS: Jaguars QB Mark Brunell has started nine of the 10 games against the Steelers, going 5-4. He is 175 of 317 (55.2 percent) for 1,930 yards, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions for a 73.7 passer rating. … Jimmy Smith is the Jaguars' leading receiver, with 47 catches for 628 yards and three TDs. In eight games, Keenan McCardell has caught 33 passes for 448 yards, two TDs and a two-point conversion. … In three games, RB Fred Taylor has rushed for 166 yards on 33 carries and two TDs. … PK Mike Hollis is 13 of 15 on field goals and 18 for 18 on extra points for 57 points. … For the Steelers, RB Jerome Bettis has 168 carries for 620 yards and two TDs … TE Mark Bruener has 19 catches for 140 yards and three TDs. … QB Kordell Stewart has played in all 10 games and completed 93 of 166 passes (56.0 percent) for 980 yards, five TDs and five interceptions.
LAST WEEK: The Jaguars were defeated by the Indianapolis Colts 43-14 at the RCA Dome, losing their first game ever on "Monday Night Football" and evening their 2000 record at 2-2. The Jaguars allowed 440 yards passing by Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and 533 total yards by the Indianapolis offense - both single-game records by a Jaguars opponent - as they were outscored 22-0 in the second half and handed one of their biggest defeats in franchise history. Jimmy Smith caught two first-half touchdown passes from Mark Brunell - Smith's fifth and sixth scores of the season - but the Jacksonville offense gained only 52 yards in the second half (minus-27 on their first five possessions) and was unable to do any scoring. Fred Taylor returned to the lineup and rushed for 57 yards, all but one yard in the first half. But the Jaguars' defense could not slow down Manning, who completed 23 of 36 passes and drove the Colts to seven scores (the Colts also had a safety). Brunell completed 21 of 36 passes for 229 yards. But, on the first five possessions of the second half when the game was on the line, he was only 1 for 6 for 3 yards, with three sacks. He threw for 72 yards on the final drive that ended in his second interception of the evening. On Indianapolis' first series, the Colts jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a 76-yard pass from Manning to Marvin Harrison that was the longest play against the Jaguars in two years and the second-longest pass ever. Smith's first TD reception tied the score at 7-7 in the second quarter. Indianapolis then scored two touchdowns before Smith's second TD catch narrowed the lead to 21-14 at the half. That's as close as the Jaguars could get.
NOTES FROM THE COLTS GAME: The game marked the Jaguars' only non-division contest in the first seven weeks of the season. In their first six years, the Jaguars are 4-6 vs. AFC East teams during the regular season (7-8 counting the postseason). … Jimmy Smith caught 9 passes for 132 yards, his second 100-yard game of the season and eighth in his last 11 regular-season games. He now has six TDs for the season, tying his total from last year and the third most of his career. He leads the NFL in all three receiving categories -receptions, yards and touchdowns. Smith also extended his team-record streak to 76 consecutive games with at least one reception, the seventh longest among active players. … Smith's first score marked the second straight week that the Jaguars gained touchdowns after challenging an official's ruling. … The Jaguars were outgained by the Colts (286 yards to 533), had fewer first downs (18 to 21) and had less time of possession (27:38 to 32:22). … The Jaguars converted only 5 of 14 third downs (36 percent), while the Colts converted 5 of 12 (42 percent). … Jacksonville outrushed Indianapolis 97 yards to 93. Mark Brunell had six carries for 35 yards - his most since 10/18/98 at Buffalo.
The Jaguars failed to get a sack for only the second game in the last two seasons, and they allowed five sacks, the most this season and also the second most in the last two years … The Colts' 533 yards on offense topped the previous high by a Jaguars opponent of 485 on 12/1/96 by Cincinnati. … Manning's 440 yards marked the first passing game of more than 300 yards against the Jaguars since Miami's Dan Marino on 10/12/98. It also topped the previous high of a Jaguars opponent of 366 yards by Baltimore's Vinny Testaverde on 11/24/96. … MLB Hardy Nickerson and CB Fernando Bryant led the team with 7 tackles each, followed by WLB Kevin Hardy with 6 tackles. … Bryan Barker punted a season-high nine times for a 43.2-yard average, with a long of 58, three inside the 20 and no touchbacks. He had four punts returned for 20 yards. … Every player who dressed played except QB Jamie Martin. Saturday's inactives were: PK Mike Hollis, LB Brant Boyer, OT Leon Searcy and DE David Richie; Monday's inactives were: OT Mark Baniewicz, G/C Jeff Smith, DT Emarlos Leroy and QB Jonathan Quinn (third QB). … Jaguars captains were LBs Hardy Nickerson and Kevin Hardy, OT Tony Boselli and P Bryan Barker.