Jaguars game against Steelers still means something to Jacksonville


The Jacksonville Jaguars matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers may not have the buzz it did last season in the two games these teams played, but it still means something to the home team and the fans here in Jacksonville.

They are the Steelers. They are black and gold. They are the Jacksonville Jaguars biggest rival. Forget the noise about the Tennessee Titans or the Houston Texans. Throw out the need for cross-state rivalries. The Pittsburgh Steelers are the one team everyone wants to see this franchise play on a regular basis.

Despite the 3-6 record and playoff hopes slipping faster than sand through an hourglass (I never thought I would make a Days of Our Lives reference in a football story), this game still has meaning, if for nothing else, pride.

I liken it to the Florida-Georgia game that fans from both states get hyped up for on a college football afternoon in October. Throw the records out the window. Fans for both teams will be out in full force, displaying their colors and their love for the game. It’s also a game that when you look at statistics of the past couple of weeks, the Jaguars have gotten better on offense and defense.

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"“Jacksonville’s pass defense has been stingy all season, limiting opponents to an NFL-low 200.6 net passing yards per game, while Pittsburgh’s 323.0 passing yards per game is the third-highest mark in the league,” wrote David Wolf of the Jaguars public relations department. “The Steelers passing game is led by Pro Bowl QB Ben Roethlisberger, second-year WR Juju Smith-Schuster (762 receiving yards) and Pro Bowl WR Antonio Brown (690 receiving yards) and will challenge Jaguars Pro Bowl CBs A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey. The Jaguars tallied a team-record five INTs against Ben Roethlisberger in the two team’s last regular season matchup in Week 5 of 2017.”"

The idea of doing the same thing this season might be a little too much to ask, but Jacksonville brings out the best and worst in the Steelers and their future Hall of Fame quarterback.

Jacksonville’s defense found a rhythm in the second half of the 29-26 loss to the Colts where they pitched a shutout after surrendering all of their opponent’s points in the first half. There looked to be a renewed dedication to detail and more concentration at the point of attack. It was also a game where quarterback Blake Bortles threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns and was not sacked and did not throw an interception.

it marked Bortles’ 20th career game with at least 300 passing yards, tied with Peyton Manning for the sixth-most 300-yard passing games through a player’s first five NFL seasons.

A chance to play like that in front of the home crowd may silence a few more critics of the NFL’s most maligned starter behind center.

"“The shutout marked the Jaguars fourth second-half shutout since Doug Marrone took over head coaching duties. The Jaguars held Pittsburgh to three points after halftime in Week 5 last year,” Wolf added."

As fellow Black and Teal writer Williams Frost told me while talking about the game on Sunday (Frost is in the UK and gives a different perspective on the feel of the Jaguars from across the pond), it would take a Herculean effort for Jacksonville to come away with the win. We touch on that in our predictions for the game that will run tomorrow at noon.

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For now, we sit and wait and hope for a Jaguars win. Not only do the Jaguars need this win, but the city of Jacksonville and its fans also need it as well. Losing is an awful feeling. A victory, over our biggest rival, will do more to rejuvenate the community. It might also turn things around for this franchise with six games to play following Sunday.