Ben Roethlisberger threw 14 interceptions during the regular season – five of them came on October 8.
The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback would like nothing more than to redeem himself for that 30-9 home loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6) in Week 5 in Sunday’s AFC Divisional Playoff game.
Jacksonville’s October road win was part of their incredible improvement after going 3-13 last season. The Jags won the AFC South thanks in part to a 5-4 record away from EverBank Field.
While Roethlisberger threw for 312 yards and Antonio Brown caught 10 passes for 157 yards in the first meeting, one of the reasons the Jaguars were able to pick off Roethlisberger five times was they stopped the run.
Le’Veon Bell had just 15 carries for 47 yards and James Conner – with three attempts for just nine – was the only other running back with any rush attempts.
If the Steelers (13-3) can establish Bell early, it will open lanes for Roethlisberger to find his potent weapons outside in Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant.
Leonard Fournette had his breakout game against the Steelers, with 181 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries.
The rookie from LSU finished the year with 1,040 in just 13 games and will be the focal point of Jacksonville’s offense on Sunday.
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles threw for just 95 yards in the earlier win at Pittsburgh. He had only 87 in last week’s WildCard round win over the Buffalo Bills, though he did rush for a team-high 88 yards as Fournette was limited to 57 on 21 carries.
Brown did not play in Pittsburgh’s final two regular-season games after suffering a calf injury in Week 15. The Steelers got a first-round bye as the AFC’s number two seed, giving him an extra week to heal.
The Steelers have said all the right things this week, that Brown looks like his old self, but the real test will come on Sunday in live action against Jacksonville’s aggressive defense.