Top of the evening for you folks! I hope you're enjoying your post-game Victory Day! It's pretty exciting to see the praise in the Sports Media after what can only be described as a season defining victory. Nothing says "playoff team" like marching into the Great White North, playing smash-mouth football, and beating a top tier team at their own game.
Let's take a quick look at the good, the bad, and the ugly in yesterdays victory.
- Fred Taylor: Need I say more? Fred had his 4th consecutive hundred yard game (a total of 147 yards), and a game clinching TD late in the 4th quarter. Fred ran with a power and a nastiness that simply destroyed the Steelers defense. He powered over and through defenders almost at will. He was, quite simply, unstoppable. It's appropriate that Fred Taylor has the opposing rushing record at Three Rivers stadium (224) and at Heinz Field (147), he's owned the Steelers for his entire career. Nobody should be surprised that he had a fantastic day yesterday.
- The Offensive Line: Huge holes for the running game, plenty of time in the pocket for Garrard, and no sacks allowed against a defense that is known for fancy Blitz Packages. To mix my metaphors, they pitched a perfect game.
- Pass Defense: Five Sacks, including one by Bobby "Big Contact" McCray. Five Sacks from a pass-defense that's been ineffective to say the least. Rob Meier was bringing great pressure, as was John Henderson. Brent Hawkins had two sacks, Henderson, Spicer, and McCray one each. No receiver for the Steelers pass-wacky spread attack had more than 35 yards. Sure, Ben threw three TD's, but all things considered, the pass defense (helped by the wind, of course) did a fantastic job. They couldn't have picked a more perfect time to firm up as we enter the playoffs in three weeks.
- Letting the Steelers back in the Game: David Garrard threw an interception (his 2nd of the season) to Anthony Smith (yeah, that guy) that brought the Steelers back in the game. Jacksonville had the game almost under wraps when the errant pass to Greg Jones made the 4th quarter a bit too interesting for my tastes. Now, I've got no problem with throwing a Play-Action pass after 4 consecutive running plays. We were dominating on the ground with 8 guys in the box, but we couldn't be expected to run on EVERY play. The bigger point is that the Jaguars came very close to bringing the Steelers back to life. This can't be repeated as we get into the Playoffs. Indianapolis and New England would eat us alive if we did that in the playoffs.
- Maurice Jones-Drew on 4th Down: Yeah, he was bad. Bad for the Steelers. Ha, ha. I didn't want to have a dozen "good", so I'll be foolish and put him down here. Mo-Jo was the perfect compliment back on Sunday, and twice he sustained drives with 4th down runs. One looked doomed from the start, but he spun around and got the yardage. He's a fantastic back and deserves recognition for his hard work. That long 20 play drive was the perfect exposition of Jaguars football, and Jones-Drew kept that alive. He's Bad, bad to other teams that is!
Two Words. Adam Podlish. Bad holds on extra points, bad punts, bad bad bad. One botched punt led right to 7 points, and the two missed extra points allowed the Steelers to tie the game up, rather than stay in the deficit. If the Jaguars were to lose this game, the fault of the game goes right into the hands (or foot) of Podlesh. He played like he was scared and I'm not sure why. We spent a 4th round pick to eliminate any problems in the punting game. Now my heart beats faster when I see the punt formation. Thank god for the Aggressive 4th down play calling, otherwise we'd see a lot more of the guy. I bet he had a miserable trip back to Jacksonville, knowing he's the only Jaguar with a bad week ahead of him. I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see us work out a punter or two this week, just to ratchet up the pressure.
Good Win all around. I hope to be breaking down the tape tomorrow. It's hard for me to really find too much to nitpick until I can watch for missed assignments and missed tackles. The most important thing right now is for us to get one more win to clinch. Beating the Oakland Raiders will do the trick and hopefully render the Texans meaningless.