Mathis has history with Pittsburgh
Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis has played in six career games, including playoffs, against Pittsburgh and has recorded six interceptions including two returned for touchdowns. Mathis has at least one interception in four of the six games and five career interceptions off Ben Roethlisberger. Twenty of Mathis' 30 career interceptions have come in road games.
Mathis intercepted* *Tommy Maddox in overtime and returned it 41 yards to give the Jaguars a 23-17 win in 2005 at Pittsburgh. Mathis picked off Roethlisberger twice on Sept. 18, 2006 on Monday Night Football. He intercepted Roethlisberger in the second quarter of the AFC Wild Card game on Jan. 5, 2008 and returned it 63 yards for a score. On the ensuing Steelers possession, Mathis intercepted a pass intended for Najeh Davenport.
In the last meeting between the teams (10/5/08), Mathis intercepted Roethlisberger in the first quarter and returned it 72 yards for a touchdown, the second-longest interception return in franchise history. The 72-yard return is the last interception returned for a touchdown for the Jaguars.
Jaguars try to stop four-game slide
The Jaguars will look to win for the first time since the season-opener when they visit Heinz Field on Sunday, October 16 to battle the Pittsburgh Steelers. Sunday will be the second of three straight games against AFC North teams after the Jaguars lost 30-20 last Sunday against Cincinnati. The Jaguars are beginning a three-game stretch against teams with winning records before observing the bye week, with their next three opponents having a combined 9-5 record (Pittsburgh 3-2, Baltimore 3-1, Houston 3-2).
The Jaguars lead the overall series with the Steelers, 11-9, and have won four of the last five games (including playoffs). In 2007, the Jaguars became the only visiting team in NFL history to win twice at Pittsburgh in the same season. The only opponent the Jaguars have faced more than Pittsburgh is Houston/Tennessee (33 games).
After facing the top-ranked defense in the NFL last week in the Bengals, the Jaguars will face the second-ranked defense in the Steelers. The Steelers enter Sunday's game with a 3-2 mark after beating Tennessee last Sunday and have allowed only 282.8 yards per game.
Defense holds opponents below average
The Jaguars defense ranks eighth in the NFL after five games and has held opponents under 300 yards in four of the five games. It marks only the second time in franchise history the club has done so (1999, all five games). San Diego and Cincinnati are the only other two NFL teams to hold opponents under 300 yards in at least four games this season.
The Jaguars held Tennessee and Carolina to its lowest offensive output in five games, and the 239 yards last Sunday by Cincinnati was the second-lowest by the Bengals through five games.
Here's a look at the Jaguars' first five opponents with their current average yards per game and their total against the Jaguars: Tennessee (339.0 – 292 vs. Jaguars), New York Jets (297.4 – 283 vs. Jaguars), Carolina (428.2 – 265 vs. Jaguars), New Orleans (452.0 – 503 vs. Jaguars), Cincinnati (320.2 – 239 vs. Jaguars).
Defense ranks among leaders
The Jaguars are tied for second in 2011 with only 13 plays of 20-plus yards by their opponents and third with only 11 completions of 20-plus yards. In addition, the defense has allowed only two rushes of 20-plus yards (T-5th in NFL) and 10 rushes of 10-plus yards (T-7th in NFL).
Lowery puts stamp on defense
The Jaguars traded for safety Dwight Lowery on September 3, the day teams had to reduce their roster to 53 players. Eight days later, Lowery was on the field for the season opener against Tennessee and has been a fixture in the club's secondary ever since.
The fourth-year pro leads the team with two interceptions and six passes defensed through five games. Lowery, who played three seasons with the Jets, intercepted the Titans' Matt Hasselbeck in his Jaguars debut to seal the win. Lowery was inserted into the starting lineup in week three at Carolina and has started the last three games. He totaled a career-high 11 tackles in week five against New Orleans and set up a Jaguars score last Sunday with an interception of Andy Dalton in the second quarter which he returned 30 yards to the Bengals' two-yard line.
Did you know? Part 1
There are just eight players on the Jaguars' current roster who played in the last game against the Steelers on October 5, 2008 including five who started. Tight end Marcedes Lewis, offensive lineman Uche Nwaneri, fullback Greg Jones, linebacker Daryl Smith and cornerback Rashean Mathis are the only players that started in the last game against the Steelers.
Gabbert airs it out
Blaine Gabbert found wide receiver Jason Hill for a 74-yard touchdown pass last Sunday against Cincinnati with 8:24 left in the game for the fifth-longest completion in franchise history and longest since 2007. It was the longest fourth-quarter go-ahead touchdown pass by a rookie since Peyton Manning connected with Marshall Faulk for 78 yards in 1998. There have been 11 touchdown passes of at least 74 yards through five weeks of the 2011 season.
Gabbert ranks sixth in the AFC and 15th in the NFL with an 84.4 passer rating in the fourth quarter. Gabbert has completed 19 of 36 passes for 251 yards with one touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Jones-Drew in the NFL rankings
Maurice Jones-Drew enters Sunday's game at Pittsburgh ranked fourth in the NFL in rushing with 476 yards. Jones-Drew ranks among the NFL leaders in several categories including rushes (96, 3rd), yards from scrimmage (543, 10th), first downs (27, 5th), rushes of 10-plus yards (15, 2nd), rushes of 20-plus yards (5, T-3rd) and offensive touches (103, 7th).
Jones-Drew close to 8,000 yards from scrimmage
A week after eclipsing 10,000 all-purpose yards, Maurice Jones-Drew needs 110 yards from scrimmage on Sunday to reach 8,000 for his career in his 83rd career game, joining Fred Taylor (13,632, 140 games) and Jimmy Smith (12,286, 171 games) as the only players in franchise history to reach that milestone.
Former Jaguars quarterback finds a home
Former Jaguars and current Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich broke his left arm in the third preseason game and was placed on injured reserve. Leftwich, the seventh overall pick by the Jaguars in the 2003 draft, started 44 of 46 games in four seasons with the club and completed 789 of 1,344 passes for 9,042 yards with 51 touchdowns for an 80.5 rating.
Did you know? Part 2
The Jaguars are one of eight teams to not allow an opposing 100-yard rusher through five weeks.
Florida ties on Steelers roster
The Steelers have eight players with ties to Florida: Cornerback Cortez Allen (Ocala, North Marion High), Wide receiver Antonio Brown (Miami, Norland High), cornerback William Gay (Tallahassee, Rickards High), offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert (Ft. Lauderdale, St. Thomas Aquinas High, Univ. of Florida), cornerback Bryant McFadden (Hollywood, McArthur High, Florida State), center/guard Maurkice Pouncey (Lakeland, Lakeland High, Univ. of Florida), offensive tackle Max Starks (Orlando, Lake Highland Prep, Univ. of Florida) and linebacker Lawrence Timmons (Florida State).
Television broadcast Sunday's game will be broadcast regionally on CBS, locally on WTEV CBS47 (Ch. 6 cable). Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with former NFL player Dan Fouts providing analysis.