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JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS(8-2) at PITTSBURGH STEELERS(6-4)

Sunday, November 22, 1998, 1:00 p.m. EST
Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pa.

THIS WEEK: With their best record ever after 10 games, the second-best mark in the AFC and a two-game lead in the AFC Central, the Jacksonville Jaguars travel to a place where they have never won before - Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium - for their first meeting of the year with the Steelers. Kickoff is at 1:00 p.m. EST Sunday at Three Rivers Stadium.

The Steelers have won the division for the last four years, but the Jaguars, who are 8-2, have a two-game lead in the AFC Central for the first time ever. They have also never been alone in first place this late in the season. Jacksonville is coming off a 29-24 come-from-behind victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, its third straight victory. The Steelers are 6-4 and tied for second place in the division after losing to the Tennessee Oilers 23-14 last Sunday. The Jaguars have won all four of their games in the AFC Central this season, while the Steelers are 2-3. Jacksonville has a 3-2 road record so far this year, while the Steelers are 4-1 at home. The home team has won every game in the series that began in 1995, each team with three victories.

The Jaguars have the third-best record in the NFL over the last 31 regular-season games dating back to November 24, 1996, when they began their late-season streak to the playoffs. The 24-7 record of the Jaguars in that time trails only Green Bay and Denver and is tied with San Francisco. The Jaguars also have the NFL's third-best home record and the third-best road record since late in the 1996 season.

TELEVISION BROADCAST:The game will be televised regionally by CBS and locally by WTLV Channel 12. Kevin Harlan will call the play-by-play and Sam Wyche will add analysis.

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 and former NFL quarterback Matt Robinson adds analysis. Sexton and Robinson are in their fourth season together. Robinson, Jennifer Kumik, 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 21 affiliates in four states on the Jaguars Radio Network will also broadcast the game.

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. 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 in the 1970s, in 1974, 1975, 1978 and 1979. They made the postseason only once in seven years from 1985 to '91, but have advanced to the playoffs the last six years under Bill Cowher, playing in the AFC championship game in 1994 and '97 and the Super Bowl in '95. The Steelers have won the AFC Central Division in five of Cowher's six years as head coach. In 1997, they finished 11-5 and tied with the Jaguars but won the division on the fifth tiebreaker. In last season's playoffs, they beat New England and lost to Denver for the conference championship. They are 6-4 so far this season, two games behind the Jaguars in the AFC Central.

THE SERIES:This is the seventh game between the Jaguars and Steelers, with the home team winning all six games that have been played so far. Jacksonville 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.

THE LAST TIME:The Jaguars were defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime 23-17 at Three Rivers Stadium on October 26, 1997. The Jaguars had a 10-0 lead at halftime and 17-14 in the fourth quarter but were outscored 23-7 and outgained 320 to 101 yards in the second half and overtime. The Steelers tied the game 17-17 on a 19-yard field goal by Norm Johnson with 2:21 left in regulation, and then won it by driving 77 yards in nine plays after winning the overtime coin toss. Jerome Bettis, who rushed for 99 yards on 28 carries, scored the game-winner on a 17-yard shovel pass from Kordell Stewart. Stewart completed 25 of 42 passes for 317 yards and two touchdowns and also scored a TD on a one-yard dive. Mark Brunell threw for 214 yards and two touchdowns for Jacksonville but left the game on the Jaguars' final drive with a dislocated knuckle on his left (throwing) hand. The Jaguars had the ball for just 8:18 in the second half.

A JAGUARS VICTORY OVER THE STEELERS WOULD:Give them a 9-2 record, their best start ever in four NFL seasons, as well as continue to give them the second-best mark in the AFC. It would also be their 25th victory in their last 32 regular-season games dating back to 1996. A win would also give them a 5-0 record in AFC Central games this season and a mark of 20-9 all time (they are 11-3 at home and 8-6 on the road).

INJURY UPDATE:The only player who suffered an injury in the Tampa Bay game was DT Seth Payne, who reinjured his left shoulder. Missing the game with injuries were: S Chris Hudson (sprained ankle) and RB Tavian Banks (sprained foot). The status of all injured players will be updated during the week.

THE COACHES:Jacksonville head coach Tom Coughlin has led the Jaguars to the playoffs each of the last two seasons, a first for an NFL expansion team. In 1997, the Jaguars finished 11-5 and lost the AFC Central Division championship on the fifth tiebreaker to Pittsburgh. The Jaguars 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, Coughlin's Jaguars finished with four victories in their inaugural season. He became head coach of the Jaguars on February 21, 1994 following three successful seasons as head coach at Boston College. Coughlin 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 27 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). He has a record of 32-26 during the regular season and 2-2 in the postseason.

In his first six years as head coach in Pittsburgh, Bill Cowher has guided the Steelers to six consecutive playoff appearances. It is a feat matched only by Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Paul Brown. The 1997 Steelers finished 11-5, winning their fourth consecutive AFC Central Division championship. In 1995, he led Pittsburgh to the AFC championship and Super Bowl XXX, losing to Dallas 27-17. It marked Cowher's first AFC championship after losing the 1994 title 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 coach of the year in 1992, his first season as a pro head coach, after bringing the AFC Central Division title to Pittsburgh for the first time in eight years. Cowher moved to Pittsburgh from Kansas City, where he had served as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the Chiefs (1989-1991). Cowher was an assistant under Marty Schottenheimer for seven years, including four at Cleveland (1985-88). He has a record of 70-36 in the regular season and 5-6 in the postseason.

COUGHLIN RANKED AMONG LEAGUE'S TOP COACHES:With four victories in four games vs. AFC Central teams and five home wins so far this season, the Jaguars' Tom Coughlin is moving up on two lists that put him among the elite NFL coaches. Coughlin has the third-best record of all NFL coaches in division games and the fifth-best record in home games (of coaches with a minimum of 16 home games).

Records in Division Games

Coach W L Pct.
1. Marty Schottenheimer 73 31 .702
2. Bill Cowher 32 15 .681
3. Tom Coughlin 19 9 .679
4. Mike Holmgren 35 17 .673
5. Mike Ditka 62 35 .639

RECORDS IN HOME GAMES


Coach W L Pct.
1. Mike Shanahan 27 2 .931
2. Mike Holmgren 46 7 .868
3. Bill Cowher 44 9 .830
4. Marty Schottenheimer 60 18 .769
5. Tom Coughlin 21 8 .724

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