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Jags try to make it five straight

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The Jaguars take a four-game winning streak against the Steelers into Sunday night's nationally-televised game between the two teams.

Do you own them, running back Fred Taylor was asked?

"You mean, like I'm your daddy?" Taylor said, laughing. "No way. I don't feel like that about them. I'd never feel like that about them. That's a bad question, man."

Since 2005, however, the Jaguars have seemed to "own" the Steelers, having scored three of those four wins on Steelers soil. The most recent was last January in the playoffs, when the Jaguars became the first team in NFL history to win in Pittsburgh twice in one season.

Logic would suggest the Jaguars have more than a fair chance of making it five in a row this Sunday, as the Steelers come to Jacksonville Municipal Stadium battered and depleted from Monday night's overtime victory against Baltimore. It was one of the most ferocious games of recent seasons and the Steelers' injury report is proof.

Rashard Mendenhall, who replaced Willie Parker at running back, was lost for the season. So was starting right guard Kendall Simmons. The Steelers are also without two of their starting defensive linemen, Casey Hampton and Brett Keisel, and they're expected to start their number four running back, Mewelde Moore.

Popular opinion is the Steelers were weakened dramatically by the hard-fought win and may be looking forward more to next week's bye than Sunday's game against the Jags. Jack Del Rio, however, isn't buying into that theory.

"I don't see it that way at all," Del Rio said. "It's no different than us playing our hearts out the first four weeks."

Del Rio was clearly in one of his "focused" moods when he met with reporters on Wednesday. He did his best to trumpet the virtues of the 3-1 Steelers.

"Big Ben (Roethlisberger) is where it starts. He leads the league on third down. He's tremendous at extending plays and he is surrounded by playmakers," Del Rio said. He failed to mention, however, that Roethlisberger has been sacked 11 times in the last two games.

"He might be as good as I've seen at taking a potential bad play and turning it into a big play. He just has a knack for extending plays," Del Rio said.

Roethlisberger has played well against the Jaguars but he missed the game with a knee injury in 2005, was rushed back too soon from appendectomy surgery for the game in '06, and was without Parker and was playing behind a depleted offensive line in last season's playoff game. Ironically, the same circumstances exist for this Sunday's game.

Whereas the Steelers are in subtraction, the Jaguars would seem to be in addition. Rashean Mathis, Reggie Nelson, Justin Durant and Tony McDaniel were all expected to practice on Wednesday and Del Rio talked as though he expects them to play on Sunday.

"You know the mystique and tradition behind the Steelers. You try to man up and be as physical as they are. It brings out the best in you," Taylor said.

Part of the Steelers' mystique is for their renowned blitzes. Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau sends his players from all angles and they sacked Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco five times on Monday, turning one of those sacks into a fumble that was recovered by linebacker LaMarr Woodley and returned for a touchdown.

"They have so many of them," Jags quarterback David Garrard said of the Steelers' blitz schemes. "We've seen them all. You just never know who they're blitzing and what kind of coverage you're going to get behind it. That's what makes playing against them so difficult."

Apparently, it hasn't been that difficult for the Jaguars.

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