For just a minute, let's stray from analysis of the Jaguars and the game they're going to play against the Steelers this Sunday night. Forget about the record and the disappointment, about the salary cap and plans for rebuilding this team, and allow yourself to be nostalgic. Think about the fact that the Jaguars will be playing in Three Rivers Stadium for the final time.
It is a place that helped define the first era of Jaguars football, and it is the stadium in which the Jaguars have played more games than in any other stadium in the league, except, of course, Alltel Stadium.
When the Jaguars began their playing history, the Pittsburgh Steelers were the dominant team in the AFC Central Division, and the Jaguars built themselves to beat the Steelers. They did in Jacksonville, then after four unsuccessful tries in Three Rivers, the Jaguars scored a win there last year that officially allowed them to crown themselves king of the division.
Next season, Three Rivers Stadium will be a parking lot, giving way to a state-of-the-art facility being built within "arm's reach" of the old oval at the confluence. So, this is it; one more chance to remember how it was in the beginning, when a late-season game in Pittsburgh was another chance for an up-and-coming young team to prove itself to the football world, and the goal was to one day beat the Steelers on their own turf.
Next year promises to be all new turf.
Here's 10 things the Jaguars must do to beat the Steelers:
- Stop Bettis--That much never changes. Beating the Steelers always begins and ends with stopping Jerome Bettis.
- Play their game--You don't beat the Steelers in Three Rivers by playing your way. The Jaguars learned that in four losing trips. Then, last season, they did it the Steeler way: defense, defense, defense.
- Stay away from the heaters--The Steelers get turned on when they see visiting teams tucked in their long coats and standing around the sideline heaters or sitting on the heated benches with their feet tucked in the "hot slots."
- Think of Three Rivers as a friend--Embrace the atmosphere. Be the ball.
- Pick your spots--Attack-style offense sounds great, but the Steelers feed off turnovers. Play the waiting game, acquire field position, then take a shot at the end zone when you have it.
- Keep Kordell in the pocket--Kordell Stewart is apparently under orders from offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride to stay in the pocket. That's good for opponents, because Stewart's strong suit is still his running ability, as witnessed by a 34-yard run in Jacksonville that was the big play of the Steelers' win on Oct. 1.
- Beware Little Poteat--Yeah, Steelers rookie Hank Poteat has game-changing punt-return ability. He almost took one back against the Jaguars.
- Win the third quarter--The Jaguars have been outscored 54-13 in third quarter, whereas the Steelers have outscored their opponents 39-12. Logic would suggest that the third quarter will be a key time for the Jaguars.
- Kick it high--Forget about kicking it long. The ball tends to get a little hard at this time of year in Pittsburgh.
- See 1.