The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t thinking about what happened on Oct. 8, 2017.
Instead, their focus is to not let history repeat itself.
The Steelers are gearing up in just a few hours time to face the Jacksonville Jaguars. On the date previously mentioned, the Steelers fell to the Jaguars in Week 5, in an embarrassing 30-9 loss.
So where did that infamous butt-kicking take place? Heinz Field.
Heinz Field is the venue for today’s playoff contest, as well. The Steelers are well-rested, after securing a bye week — along with the New England Patriots — and waited to see who their opponent was.
The Jaguars took down the Buffalo Bills in a sloppy 10-3 victory.
Things will be a lot different this time around at Heinz Field, and we’re not just talking about the weather. Last time the two sides met, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions — the most in any game all season for him.
However, Roethlisberger, with the help of his stacked offensive line, has been solid lately. It also doesn’t hurt that Big Ben will be reunited after three weeks with wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Brown has been sidelined with a calf injury, and also missed a portion of practice this week due to illness. However, sources say that Brown isn’t close to 100 percent, but he’ll give it a go today.
Brown isn’t Roethlisberger’s only target, though. JuJu Smith-Schuster, the 21-year-old rookie out of the University of Southern California, has become one of Big Ben’s favorite receivers.
Smith-Schuster is having a great start to his NFL career, as he’s featured in 14 games, has caught seven touchdowns and has never lost a fumble.
The Steelers will also rely heavily on tight end Jesse James.
James has been marked in the NFL by the controversial call that could have secured the Steelers win against the New England Patriots back on Dec. 17, 2017. However, James brushed that off and has put in solid work.
It doesn’t matter if he’s catching footballs or blocking for running back Le’Veon Bell; Jesse James will get the job done at tight end for the Steelers.
As for Bell, the 2017 season has been plagued by threats of holdouts and only having four games during the regular season where he rushed for over 100 yards.
However, Bell has been productive on the receiving end as well. His combined total of receiving and rushing touchdowns is an impressive 11.
The Steelers defense has been on their game as well, looking a lot different than that frightful Oct. 8 day. Joe Haden’s addition to the defensive back group has proved successful.
The Steelers are lingering on whether Artie Burns will start today, after suffering a non-contact injury during practice this week, but Burns has avoided a sophomore slump with solid play.
Burns and Haden will both have a grand time with Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles.
If anything is burning a fire under the Steelers to make it back to the AFC Championship game, and even a Super Bowl, it’s Ryan Shazier.
After falling to a gruesome back injury that threatened his ability to even walk, Shazier has been a beacon of hope and inspiration for the Steelers — and even the city of Pittsburgh.
Chants of “Shalieve” during the games, FaceTime calls from Shazier in the locker room and even appearances during the games and practice have given the Steelers, and the organization, new life.
Things won’t be like they were on Oct. 8. This time, it will be much different.
The Steelers and Jaguars kick off this afternoon at 1:05 p.m. at Heinz Field. The winner will go on to face the New England Patriots, up at Foxborough, Mass., next Sunday.
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