JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – All things considered, it was the Jaguars most impressive win of the season. A 30-9 thrashing of the Steelers—a team led by a quarterback with two Super Bowl rings and a pair of All-Pro offensive weapons. The Jaguars dominated. Will the experience the Jaguars gained in the Week 5 win in Pittsburgh mean anything on Sunday? Maybe. But the atmosphere is going to be very different at Heinz Field.
“Going into the stadium, it’s beneficial. You know where the locker room is; here’s where the coffee is set up,” said head coach Doug Marrone. "Outside of that, the environment will be different--a playoff environment.”
Only one Jaguars player knows firsthand what Pittsburgh is like in the playoffs. Marcedes Lewis had success a decade ago when the Jaguars went to the Steel City and won twice. Once in the regular season, then two weeks later in the playoffs.
“It’s different in the playoffs,” Lewis said. “The atmosphere will be the same, but the intensity goes up. Obviously we’ll be seeing a different Pittsburgh team than we saw the first time. They’ll be seeing a different Jacksonville team, too.”
Unlike the Week 5 matchup, the Steelers have no excuse to overlook the Jaguars. It’s the postseason and everything is on the line.
“They know that we’re coming to play this week,” said strong safety Barry Church. “It’s the first playoff game this year. It’s going to be a great atmosphere.”
Tashaun Gipson made regular trips to Pittsburgh in his first four years in the league when he played for the Cleveland Browns, who play in the AFC North, like the Steelers.
“We thought it was a crazy atmosphere in week 5, we just amplified times 10,” Gipson said. “There are no hotels in the city; no tickets to the game unless you buy it through the organization. It just tells you the type of environment that is going to be there. They’re used to this environment. They thrive on this environment.”
The environment. The focus. The intensity. It will all be heightened on Sunday, but the Jaguars said they are ready for it.
“The atmosphere is going to be more intense than that day. That day was pretty intense,” said defensive tackle Calais Campbell. “Pittsburgh has a crazy home-field advantage. But we have confidence that we can go up there and win.”