It'll be more than a clash of two teams with hopes for the postseason. This Sunday night's game between the Jaguars and the Steelers will be a rematch of quarterbacks David Garrard and Ben Roethlisberger, who dueled in the playoffs last season and who each possess a unique and unconventional style.
Garrard is the scrambler turned pocket passer, who still reverts to his legs at crunch time. Roethlisberger is the big, strong pocket-passer who finds ways to muscle the ball downfield despite having defenders draped on his body.
Which one is the better quarterback? They'll try to decide that on the field at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium this Sunday.
Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio talks about Garrard's ability to make plays with his arm, his mind and his legs. "It's up to David to use one of the three things he can do," Del Rio said.
This past Sunday, when the Jaguars needed a touchdown to regain the lead from Houston late in the game, Garrard turned to his legs, just as he did in last season's playoff win in Pittsburgh. On fourth and eight against the Texans, Garrard ran for nine yards and a first down. Then, in goal to go, Garrard ran his ever-popular quarterback draw on consecutive plays to score.
It may be his trademark play; certainly it's his favorite play. It was the play Garrard ran for 32 yards on fourth down in the Jaguars' come-from-behind playoff win in Pittsburgh last January. He was a hero; a new hero on the NFL block and Garrard basked in his glow.
As he did a postgame TV interview, Roethlisberger stood off to the side and waited for the interview to conclude so he might congratulate Garrard on the win. It was the highlight moment in Garrard's pro football career and he punctuated it with the infamous purple fedora he wore to the postgame press conference.
What hat are you going to wear this Sunday, Garrard was asked earlier this week?
"I don't know what I'm wearing on Sunday. I'm sure it'll be nice and pretty for the lights," he said.
The "lights" refer to the TV cameras that will send this game across the nation. It's the feature attraction of week five in the NFL and all eyes will be on Garrard and Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger's trademark chapeau is an on-backwards baseball cap. It fits his image and personality. This week, Roethlisberger will try to fight through the sore shoulder and throwing hand that have dogged him through the early weeks of this season.
"This league is the most physical game there is and it's because there are a lot of injuries, not only on our team but throughout the league," Roethlisberger said. "It's going to be a very physical game and we know that and how physical the Jaguars are. We know how physical we are. So it's going to be another slugfest; we've had a couple of those already this year so we're preparing for another one."
Such is Roethlisberger's personality. He accepts injury as part of the game. "Everybody is banged up. It's football," he said.
He's beaten the Jaguars only once in his career; the first time he played against them, at Jacksonville in a prime-time game in his rookie season, 2004. Roethlisberger played at an exceptionally high level in that game and rallied his team downfield in the final two minutes to claim the victory.
Since then, however, he's lost three straight to the Jaguars, though he played very well in last year's two defeats.
"We can't go into it thinking that we need revenge and that we need payback. We need to come in and play it as a game that's an AFC divisional game and it's important for us," Roethlisberger said.
As blunt as a hammer, Roethlisberger can also be very coy.
"You know what, I haven't looked back and seen that play so it's hard for me to comment on it," he said when asked if there was a missed holding call on Garrard's 32-yard run. "Nope, haven't seen that play, sorry. That's a defensive play and I only watch the Jaguars defense."
Garrard and Roethlisberger are an interesting study; an entertaining clash of styles as different as the hats they wear. They each, however, represent the physical style of football their teams play.
"It's going to be a two-chinstrap game," Garrard said. "Jack's not going to want to get away from the run, but we have to be able to throw it, too.
"That's usually how these games are. That's what we're going into this game expecting. Jack has built a physical team," Garrard added.