JACKSONVILLE –The Jaguars travel to Pittsburgh for the AFC Divisional round at Heinz Field this Sunday at 1 p.m. Here are the statistics surrounding the five interceptions the last time the Jaguars played the Steelers and how they affect this playoff matchup:
- Picksburgh: In Week 5 of the regular season, the Jaguars defense registered a franchise-record five interceptions from Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, marking the most he's thrown in a game in his career. Big Ben became just the second quarterback in the last four seasons to throw five interceptions and zero touchdowns in a game (Ryan Fitzpatrick). Early last week, Roethlisberger stated publicly he wanted to face the Jaguars in the divisional round, but he should have kept in mind that that since 2004, the Steelers have a losing home record against only two teams – the Jaguars and the Patriots. The Jaguars have traveled to Pittsburgh five times in that span, including one postseason game, and have a 4-1 record. What will happen in this sixth matchup?
- King Ramsey: In the first quarter of Week 5, All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey had the first turnover of the game when he intercepted a pass intended for Steelers tight end Vance McDonald and set up the Jaguars for their first touchdown of the game. This season, Ramsey has recorded five interceptions, including a game-clinching interception against the Bills in the AFC Wild Card game last weekend. Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown is coming off a calf injury that sat him out for over a month, but he was still a unanimous All-Pro selection this year. This matchup of NFL stars will be one to watch.
- Pick-Six Squad: In the third quarter against the Steelers, second-team All-Pro linebacker Telvin Smith intercepted Roethlisberger and ran it back 28 yards for a touchdown, his second return for a touchdown of the season. The next Pittsburgh possession, safety Barry Church caught a pass intended for Brown and returned it for a 51-yard touchdown. This game marked the first time the Jaguars scored on defense on back-to-back possessions since Oct. 25, 2015 against Buffalo in London. Smith has the third-most interceptions by a linebacker in the NFL since 2014 and Church has recorded a career-high four interceptions this season. Roethlisberger won't just have to worry about the Jaguars' All-Pro cornerbacks intercepting him on Sunday. The entire defensive backfield will be on the hunt.
- Gip Pick Part 2: In the fourth quarter, safety Tashaun Gipson caught back-to-back interceptions from Roethlisberger, with his second interception setting up running back Leonard Fournette's 90-yard touchdown run to seal the victory. Gipson's two interceptions in the fourth quarter marks just the fourth time in franchise history that a Jaguars player posted two interceptions in one quarter of a game. Gipson has totaled four interceptions this season and has recorded 18 interceptions over the past five seasons, the third-most among safeties. Similar to this past Sunday, Gipson will be a huge factor in protecting the middle of the field and preventing Steelers tight ends from making any plays.
- History Repeater?: The Jaguars scored 27 points off those five turnovers in October, a key factor in their 21-point victory over the Steelers. Since 2012, there have been 13 teams who faced a team in the playoffs after losing to that team by 20-plus points in the regular season. Those teams went 1-12 in the postseason rematch. On top of that, this game marks only the second time in history the Jaguars face a non-divisional opponent twice in one season. The first occurred in 2007, when the Jaguars beat the Steelers in December and again in January. Might history repeat itself this Sunday?
Jaguars public relations assistant Gaby Moran is back for the postseason to offer five key stats about the Jaguars heading into the playoff game. You can follow her on Twitter @gabsmoran.