All-Teal Stadium was practically under water it was so humid, and a set of gills would've been greatly appreciated. The humidity did eventually play a role. Anytime there's nearly a two-to-one time of possession differential between teams, somebody's hurting. In this case, it was the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I'll tell you how humid it was. Normally cool as a cucumber Dick LeBeau was chewing on ice during the game. And I mean he was crunching it up man.
I wore a Steelers shirt on the sidelines that made me appear to be a coach, I guess. NFL security guys kept referring to me as coach; Jags owner Wayne Weaver thought I was a coach; and former Jaguar O-lineman Dave Widdell called me coach even after I told him I was a sideline guy for the Steelers Radio Network. If only I could've used that to order a sandwich down on the sideline.
Getting up close and personal is a part of the game that I still love. The old warhorse in me still catches a sniff of battle now and then and my heart skips a beat. When the Steelers got backed up, field position-wise, I took to watching the game from the end-zone. Standing about 15 yards from the action, I felt a nostalgic sense of being in the huddle. Glad when reality kicked in and the action started that I was still 15 yards from the action, out of bounds and still retired.
Having that opportunity to watch the "Clash of the Titans" on the interior of the line from the end zone in the second quarter was worth its weight in gold. Kendall Simmons versus Marcus Stroud was as good as it gets in terms of huge guys moving their feet with some nimbleness, great hand-fighting skills, and skull-crusher body power being exhibited. If I had some popcorn, I would've as if I was taking in an old dinosaur movie.
Size really does matter. It was very apparent early on that the 6'4", 6'6", and 6'4" height stats of Jags receivers Wilford, Jones and Williams would play a factor in the game.
I really thought the Steelers would be able to get a read on Matt Jones running that out pattern. Watching that guy on film, he's got a lot of long body parts that he's gotta gather up and get going in another direction prior to making that out cut. He rounds the corner too. I'm thinking el picko for sure. Nope.
When the Jaguars showed they were able to stuff the Steelers run game with just seven guys, I started to get that sickly feeling in my gullet. That means a.) the opponent can load up and come after you on the pass rush because you can't run the ball, and b.) when they do come after you, they can bring more people than you can pick up. It can be a little overwhelming. Think of the Alamo. Sheer numbers.
One of the reasons for the Jaguars success in throttling the Steelers' running game was MLB Mike Peterson. This guy plays peek-a-boo better than my three-year-old son, Maximos. Peterson understands the run game and hides behind those twin masters of disasters, Henderson and Stroud, very effectively. Only at the last second would Peterson pop out to make the hit.
When you can't get a straight shot at a guy because he's hiding at the second level, it means you can't really come with any power, you're picking your way there; or combo-blocking first and in this case it's an ill tempered mutant Sasquatch that doesn't wanna be moved who's mugging you as much as you're mugging him.
In effect, Peterson is able to counter any size disadvantage by negating the force a lineman can bring and using his superior quickness to get to the intercept point first.
The tackling by the Steelers was awful. They know it, and they will be better.
The Steelers had to go to eight in the box to try to shut down Fred Taylor, which means that the corners had to give a little cushion. The Jags rightly countered with quick outs. It's no problem if the corners come up and tackle well, which is a normal night for the Steelers corners. Poor tackling on this night combined with little over-the-top help was a recipe for disaster.