What We Learned: Jaguars vs. Steelers(Again)

The Jaguars were dominant in short spurts, and awful in some longer stretches. The team was outplayed severely in the second half, but found a way to win a playoff game on the road, due to having playmakers like Maurice Jones-Drew, Rashean Mathis, and David Garrard.

Despite Garrard looking like a quarterback that was in over his head for much of the game, he settled down and made a play when his team needed him to. We learned that having playmakers can overcome an otherwise average performance.

Five most important things for the Jaguars:

    1. Play smart football. The Jaguars didn't accomplish this for much of the game as quarterback David Garrard took chances with the football. Fortunately, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was careless with the ball in the first half and the poor quarterback play nearly cancelled each other out.

    2. Embrace the atmosphere. After a terrible start on defense, Maurice Jones-Drew's 96-yard kickoff return took the wind out of the Steelers fans sails. That play settled the Jaguars down and changed the football game.

    3. Affect Ben Roethlisberger. Mission accomplished. Roethlisberger was sacked six times and hit on many other occasions. Ben threw three first half interceptions which ultimately cost his team the game.

    4. Win special teams. The Jaguars won special teams in a big way as Jones-Drew had the big return, and the coverage teams were excellent. Adam Podlesh did a fantastic job of punting, as he averaged 50 yards per punt, and the only thing that kept it from being a perfect special teams day was a missed 46 yard field goal by Josh Scobee.

    5. Deliver an early punch. The Steelers got in the first blow with their game opening 10 play, 80 yard drive, but the Jaguars quickly countered and kept hitting them en route to a two touchdown advantage at halftime.

What to look for:

    1. Look for a lot of four and five wide by Pittsburgh. The Steelers threw the football early and often, as Roethlisberger had 42 passing attempts, and the Steelers ran for just 43 yards.

    2. Look for the Jaguars to throw the ball early on. Jacksonville attempted just 21 passes for the game, but they inexplicably threw the ball often in the second half.

    3. Look for Garrard on the move. David Garrard was the Jaguars leading rusher with 58 yards on five carries, and he kept drives alive with his feet. The biggest play of the game was a Garrard scramble.

    4. Look for Heath Miller to have a big day. Miller caught eight passes for 85 yards and a touchdown, and was seemingly open all night long against the Jaguars defense.

    5. Look for a big special teams play. The Jones-Drew return changed the game, and Adam Podlesh's solid punting kept the Steelers from having great field position. The Jaguars dominated special teams and it was enough to earn them the victory.


Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustrated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.



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