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Jaguars-Steelers memories

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

Robert from Daytona Beach, FL:
You're going home this week. The Steelers vs. the Jaguars; oh, how I miss the good old days twice a year. They came down here when it was hot and we went up there when it was cold. What a great rivalry. I was wondering if you might do your Jaguars-Steelers top five moments.

Vic: The plays that ended the two games in 1997 have to be tied for the number one spot, just out of respect for two of the best football games I've ever seen and the only two-game series I've ever covered in which the final play of each game was a touchdown. From last year's game, my most distinct memory is of Ben Roethlisberger surprising everyone and standing at the line of scrimmage as the clock ran down. All of a sudden, it hit me and everyone else that we had reached the moment of decision. Then, when we thought the verdict had been decided, Byron Leftwich moves the ball into semi-field goal range and Josh Scobee barely misses from 60 yards. I'll never forget Greg Lloyd's cheapshot on Keenan McCardell in the '97 game up there and the Steelers' goal line stand in that game. My memory of Mark Brunell running onto the field, limp and all, for the introductions in the '97 game here still gives me chills. It was one of the greatest and most courageous performances I have ever witnessed. I could go on and on; a top five isn't enough. There's one moment, however, that's purely personal. In the '97 game up there, I had already gone down to the field when regulation ended, so I was there for the overtime coin toss. Three Rivers Stadium went absolutely silent and I can remember hearing the referee ask Tony Boselli if he was calling heads or tails, and then hearing Boselli say "tails" as distinctly as if we were in a private conversation. The whole scene had a kind of Roman Coliseum feel to it. Three Rivers was a completely enclosed stadium, which seemed to shut out thought of everything but the game before us. In this case, it was perfect because there was nothing more important in the world than what was about to happen. There was a pregnant pause, then the referee said, "It is heads," and the stadium exploded with noise. You knew it was over. It was a unique experience for me because in all of the games I had ever covered, I had never paid attention to a coin toss. The suspense in that stadium as the referee bent over to look at the coin was gut-wrenching. I wonder what this Sunday has in store for us.

Bruce from St. Simons Island, GA:
On your radio show you tried to come up with a comparison of Fred Taylor to other NFL running backs. Let me suggest Larry Brown of the Redskins. Larry was a cutback runner and similar to Fred Taylor.

Vic: They don't compare. Larry Brown was a too-small, too-slow over-achiever whose reputation was for being one of the toughest, most durable runners of his day. Thanks for the name because I loved watching Brown run. He was the symbol of George Allen football. Fred Taylor, however, is too big, too fast and too talented to be compared to Brown. Frankly, Fred doesn't lend himself to comparison. He's a unique guy. If there's one back I've covered, however, who was similar to Fred, it was Franco Harris. Franco was a big, fast cutback runner who had a finesse style of running. The problem is that Franco was a long-legged guy who had Eddie George's sleek look as compared to Fred's more darting style of running. I'm gonna give you a couple of old names: I think Fred's a cross between Gale Sayers and John Henry Johnson.

Ryan from Toronto, Ontario:
The Sunday Night Football crew used pass-track to show viewers the power and flight Byron puts on the football. They told viewers that Leftwich throws the football at the equivalent rate of a 94 mph fastball. Last year they had Brett Favre at 98 mph. These numbers seem really high; Favre can't throw a 98 mph fastball. Where do they get this stat?

Vic: I challenge Joe Theismann to stand in the batter's box against a pitcher throwing a 98 mph fastball; not hit the ball, just stand there. Then tell me any quarterback in the league throws a football comparable to a 98 mph fastball.

Jeff from Westminster, CO:
No one should call you a homer after placing the Jags number 14 in your power poll. I'm surprised you have the Panthers ahead of them. The Panthers lost to New Orleans and Miami, won 27-17 over the Pats and squeaked by lowly Green Bay and Arizona. Their opponents' combined record is 9-15. The Jaguars opponents, on the other hand, have a combined 18-7 record. And don't even get me started about putting the 2-3 Chargers ahead of us. Was it a misprint?

Vic: It's no misprint. The Jaguars lost to each of the top two teams in my poll. That weighs heavy in my evaluation. The Jaguars will get another chance to beat a top team this Sunday. Cincinnati had a nice record, but I'm not ready to assign a win over the Bengals the same value as a win over New England. The Chargers went to New England and won big, and the Chargers have played a brutal opening schedule. What do you want me to do, give you a power rankings that's nothing more than the standings? What I give you is what I believe.

James from Twin Falls, ID:
Do you know why the NFL doesn't allow for actual game rebroadcast of classic football games of the past?

Vic: The NFL has its own TV network, NFL Network. Pete Rozelle had the great vision to see that sort of possibility and the need to protect the league's video resources. He was the brightest man to ever govern a professional sports league, and he never forgot your name.

Tyler from Woodbine, GA:
I just wanted to know if you think Ben Roethlisberger will play this week against us?

Vic: That's the question that'll be on every reporter's lips today, as the two teams prepare their injury reports. The answer will be no different than it would be or has been for Byron Leftwich in injury situations. Roethlisberger is their starting quarterback. If he can play without risk of further injury, he'll play. That's what's expected of starting quarterbacks.

Jedd from Deridder, LA:
If "Big Ben" isn't able to play this Sunday and Maddox is also banged up, does that mean the Jaguars defense will be facing Charlie Batch?

Vic: If Roethlisberger and Maddox can't play, Batch will be the man. Batch has only thrown eight passes over the last three years-plus, and I'm sure that would cause the Steelers to lean hard on their running game. The Steelers, of course, always lean hard on their running game. They run the ball. Everybody knows that and loads the box against it, but the Steelers still run it. Batch has always been a mobile guy. If he's the Steelers quarterback, I would expect them to move the pocket. Don't look for him to run but expect the pocket to move. If there's one thing Batch has always done extremely well, it's handle the ball. He's an adept play-action quarterback who can freeze linebackers with indecision. That would mesh well with their running game.

Brian from Jacksonville:
I'm guessing a g/back is between an f/back and an h/back.

Vic: That makes sense. I asked Ken Anderson what a g/back is and he didn't know.

Cory from Sandy, UT:
I know Jacksonville's defense played pretty well against the Bengals overall, but they still gave up a lot of rushing yards. This weakness in their defense has carried over from late last season and I know you have been expressing concern over this already this year. Is there a particular reason you see for them to be struggling against the run or is this just going to be a problem all year?

Vic: The Jaguars went light against the run in the Bengals game, too. What I mean by light is that they didn't put an eighth man in the box. They left it to the defensive linemen and linebackers, so they could go heavy against the pass. That's the kind of respect the Jaguars had for Carson Palmer. I would be stunned if the Jaguars went light against the run this Sunday. Depending on what happens at quarterback for the Steelers, I'm sure the Jaguars will try to pick their spots, meaning they'll go run-heavy according to the Steelers' down and distance tendencies.

Mike from Albany, NY:
After seeing what Vinny Testaverde did on Sunday, I have come to the conclusion that he has become one on the greatest journeymen ever. If he goes on to be successful this season, do you think he'll get another year?

Vic: Testaverde is the Earl Morrall of today, and if he plays the rest of this year as he played this past Sunday, Testaverde will probably be the Earl Morrall of tomorrow, too.

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