All is right in Steeler Nation after last week’s dominating victory over the Tennessee Titans.
Pittsburgh will complete their run of four straight weeks against AFC South opponents when the Jacksonville Jaguars come to Heinz Field.
Jacksonville has the worst passing offense in the league with rookie Blaine Gabbert under center, but still has one of the top running backs in Maurice Jones-Drew.
While Jones-Drew only has two touchdowns on the season, he has still managed to average 5.0 yards per carry despite teams being able to focus on stopping him.
He will be a tough task for the Steelers, as Pittsburgh will look to prevent Jacksonville from winning their second game on the season.
Historically, Jacksonville has had plenty of success against the Steelers and holds an 11-9 all-time edge.
Pittsburgh has a clear edge this week, but on any given Sunday, any team can win. The Steelers cannot avoid a letdown after last week’s big victory.
Pittsburgh’s run defense finally got in gear last week against Chris Johnson and will have just as tough of a competitor as they face off against Jones-Drew this week.
Ziggy Hood and Chris Hoke provided a burst of energy, as did Brett Keisel, who returned from an injury.
They will need to be in top form, as well as the rest of the defensive linemen, as they try to stop one of the best running backs in the game.
The focus on stopping the run is clear, according to Mike Tomlin.
“We’ve had issues, like many others, with him in the past,” said Tomlin. “He’s a very competitive football player, and they put the ball in his hands.”
Jones-Drew is fourth in the league in rushing and is the main threat on Jacksonville’s offense.
Playing against a rookie quarterback should allow the Steelers defense to focus on stopping Jones-Drew. If he is unable to produce, Pittsburgh will be in good position to win.
Completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes, Gabbert has not exactly been lighting it up like some of his fellow rookie quarterbacks.
Those numbers should not improve against what has been a very stingy Steelers’ pass defense, which has allowed a league-low 174 passing yards per game.
Dick LeBeau’s complicated blitz scheme should confuse Gabbert and pressure him all day.
So far this season, Gabbert has avoided making mistakes, throwing only two interceptions, and the Steelers would like to reverse that trend.
LaMarr Woodley was awakened last week, sacking the quarterback and picking up the team’s first interception. His playmaking ability may be just enough to force Gabbert into a bad throw.
Troy Polamalu has also been extremely close to making several interceptions, and it is only a matter of time. It may be the time this week.
The Steelers' offensive game plan was very good last week, but more importantly, very successful.
Ben Roethlisberger threw for five touchdowns while being limited to the pocket given his foot injury.
Pittsburgh used a short passing game and a decent ground attack to move the chains. They were still able to go deep with a long touchdown pass to Mike Wallace.
There is no reason why they should not run a similar game plan with more practical plays over the course of the game rather than constantly going for the home run swing.
Ben Roethlisberger may have hit his stride last week, and look for it to continue this week.
The Steelers have a great matchup at home, and with Roethlisberger in the zone, he can add to his totals.
Right now, he has something special going on with Mike Wallace, and by using more Hines Ward and Heath Miller, Roethlisberger is able to use all parts of the field.
Expect another big week from Big Ben.
Ziggy Hood got his first start last week and once again showed us why he was a first round draft pick.
Hood had four tackles and a half sack against the Titans and was one of the reasons they were so much better against the run.
Pittsburgh’s defense usually does well against rookie quarterbacks, and if Gabbert is confused by coverage schemes, Hood could very well add to his sack total this week.
With Smith out again with an injury, Hood should become entrenched as the starter at left defensive end.
- Pittsburgh is 9-11 against Jacksonville.
- The Steelers are 5-5 at home against the Jaguars.
- Pittsburgh is in their final of four consecutive games against AFC South opponents. Their record during this streak is 2-1.
- Ben Roethlisberger needs 122 passing yards to reach 24,000 for his career.
- Hines Ward needs 26 receptions to reach 1,000 for his career.
- Ward is 108 yards way from 12,000 career receiving yards.
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