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Win in Pittsburgh creates good feeling


The following is Jaguars wide receiver Keenan McCardell's diary for Nov. 15-19, 2000.

Wednesday, November 15, 2000

We were coming off a terrible loss to Seattle at home. We felt like we let a game slip away that we definitely had again. We were in control of the game and then it just fell apart. We had a team at our house to beat us and the guys in the locker room were upset that we let it slip away. Coming in on Wednesday, we were, like, let's take this thing one game at a time and our first game was going to be Pittsburgh. We came in on Wednesday knowing that it was going to be a physical game. The Steelers always play us tough and they have always been a very physical team on offense and defense. Jerome Bettis always runs hard and the defense is known by everyone in the league as a hard-hitting group of guys. Coach Coughlin put the pads on us and that got us in the mindset that we had to be physical. The only way to beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh was to be physical.

Thursday, November 16, 2000

Thursday we were, like, it's going to be tough in Pittsburgh. They are our rivals and we knew this game was going to be a knock-down, drag-out fight. Both teams were looking for a win. We were coming off a loss at home and they were coming off a loss, as well, in their stadium. They still had hopes of making the playoffs and we had slim playoff hopes if we could win, and we knew that they were going to bring their best game. Coach Bill Cowher said during the week that the Steelers should run the table and get into the playoffs. For them to run the table that meant they had to beat us first and we weren't trying to hear that. The cold weather we had in Jacksonville on Thursday helped us because we knew it was going to be cold in Pittsburgh. However, even though it was cold, no one on our team went out to practice all bundled up. On Thursday night my wife and I were helping our daughter make a Thanksgiving vest for a play she was in at school. That was fun and we just sat at the kitchen table with glue, glitter and paper bags. It was great and I can't remember when the last time I had to use glue and glitter for anything. My daughter was just playing and enjoying herself and it was great just to spend some good quality time with her. I woke up Friday morning and I still had glitter in my hair from Thursday night.

Friday, November 17, 2000

It was the short day. We had our worst practice as an offense this season on Friday. It just wasn't sharp and crisp like in past weeks. I don't know what the problem was, but I knew we had to play better on Sunday than what we did on Friday. The day just flew by and with our bad offensive practice, it just made it seem like, "Where did the day go?" After practice, I didn't do one thing. I went home and just chilled out at my house. I was kind of disappointed in practice and I sat at home trying to re-focus myself and to understand what was at stake in playing this game.

Saturday, November 18, 2000

On Friday night I had to pack for the cold weather of Pittsburgh and I had to get out some of my big jackets. When I go to the cooler cites, I prepare to bring out the leather coat or a trench coat to keep warm. I can't say anything about the guys who wear the fur coats, because they are the "true players." On the plane ride up and once we got to the hotel I thought that the team felt very comfortable. We knew the hotel that we were staying in and the routine was nothing out of the ordinary. We were relaxed and focused during the Saturday walk-through. After the team meeting, I just sat in my room thinking how this was going to be my last time playing in Three Rivers Stadium. I had been there for a number years and now this was the last time.

Sunday, November 19, 2000

Walking out onto the field, it was the usual Pittsburgh fans saying go back to Jacksonville and some other choice words that I can't repeat. During warm-ups, I just looked around at that stadium and thinking about the great players who had played on this same field and the historic and championship games that this stadium had seen. While I was thinking about all of that, I was also happy to see that terrible artificial turf go. We felt like we could go out and move the ball offensively and that's what we did. It was great to see Fred Taylor run so well and we just had a great mix of run and pass. We saw ourselves executing the best we had all season long. We showed people that when we have everybody healthy we can be a dangerous team. After the Seattle game, coach Holmgren told me, I know you guys are banged up right now and that does play a big role in how a team is going to perform. The win over the Steelers was outstanding and coach even gave us Monday off. It felt good getting on the plane with smiles and we didn't care about coming home at four a.m. Everybody on the plane kept saying we just need to keep it going this Sunday against Tennessee.

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