Jaguars at Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger gets a chance to atone for one of the worst games of his career when he guides the Pittsburgh Steelers into Sunday's AFC divisonal round matchup against the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars. Roethlisberger has guided No. 2 seed Pittsburgh to 10 wins in 11 games since a wretched performance in a 30-9 home loss to Jacksonville in Week 5.
Roethlisberger questioned whether he still had "it" after throwing a career-worst five interceptions -- two of which were returned for touchdowns -- against Jacksonville in October. "We've evolved since then. They have evolved a lot since then," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "I am sure that they are as different as we are since the last time we've seen them." Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh rebounded to win eight in a row following the loss to the third-seeded Jaguars, who set up the rematch with a 10-3 victory over Buffalo in the wild-card round. While Jalen Ramsey picked off Roethlisberger in the first meeting and clinched last week's win with an interception, fellow cornerback A.J. Bouye had a ready response -- "be careful what you ask for" -- upon hearing that the quarterback wants another crack at the Jaguars.
TV: 1:05 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Steelers -7. O/U: 41
ABOUT THE JAGUARS (11-6): The biggest question mark on offense for Jacksonville is the erratic play of fourth-year quarterback Blake Bortles, who was intercepted five times in the final two regular-season games and threw for only 87 yards in last weekend's win over Buffalo. Bortles did rush for 88 yards last week but the Jaguars likely will try to play keep-away by feeding rookie running back Leonard Fournette, who rumbled for a season-high 181 yards and a 90-yard touchdown in the first meeting against Pittsburgh. Calais Campbell leads a pass rush that amassed 55 sacks -- second in the league to Pittsburgh -- while the Jaguars permitted an NFL-low 169.9 yards per game and ranked No. 2 overall with an average of 16.8 points surrendered. Ramsey and Bouye combined for 10 of the team's 21 interceptions, also No. 2 in the league.
ABOUT THE STEELERS (13-3): Roethlisberger finished the season with multiple touchdown passes in his last seven games, connecting on 18 TDs versus five interceptions in that span. Antonio Brown, sidelined since injuring a calf in Week 15 against the Patriots, practice fully Wednesday -- the same day he was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Year after hauling in 101 passes for a league-high 1,533 yards, including 10 for 157 versus the Jaguars. Rookie wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster came on strong over the second half of the season while Le'Veon Bell provides a lethal dual threat out of the backfield, finishing third in the league in rushing (1,291) yards to go with a career-best 85 catches. The Steelers led the league with 56 sacks, but defensive end Stephon Tuitt and cornerback Artie Burns each were hurt in Wednesday's practice.
1. Brown, the only player with five straight 100-catch seasons, has at least 100 yards in four of five playoff games.
2. Jacksonville led the NFL with seven defensive touchdowns.
3. Pittsburgh has the most playoff victories in history with 36.