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Steelers vs. Jaguars: Five Keys For Steelers Victory

We could spend all day talking about what we'd hope to see from our offense on Sunday, but let's diversify the conversation for a moment and look at some other aspects of the matchup where we'd be well served winning.

1) Stop Maurice Jones Drew

I suppose it's Fred Taylor I should be worried about, given that he ran for 147 yards against us in the first of our two meetings last year. But it's Jones-Drew that truly gives me nightmares. In the two games last year, MJD ran the ball successfully (12 carries 69 yards in Game 1), caught a 40 yard TD pass in the second game, and of course returned a kick for a TD immediately following Pittsburgh's opening scoring drive in the Wild Card rond. I'm not sure if he's been dealing with injuries this year, but through four games he has just 38 carries, 13 receptions, and has only fielded one punt, no kickoffs.  If he does return kicks this week, it's imperative we continue the early season success we've had with our coverage units. We can live with a screen pass or two for a first down by MJD, but I don't think we can survive the types of  huge plays he scored on last year.

2) Improved Punting From Mitch Berger

Berger's been pretty good so far in 2008, at least through three games. Against the Ravens on Monday, Berger struggled a bit. Not terribly mind you. He did average 40 yards on 7 punts and had two downed inside the 10. This is a minor quibble here, but it's going to be important during a short week against a physical Jacksonville team that is already capable of wearing us down with the running game. Good field position is something we can't afford to give up.

3) Convert In The RedZone

I know Baltimore's got a nasty defense that's tough to finish drives off against, but I was really disappointed we failed to break their backs with a TD late in the 4th quarter, instead settling for a FG that kept it a one score game. Against Philadelphia we didn't really sniff the RedZone so it was a moot point, but I hope this doesn't become a trend for this offnse moving forward. It's too early to say if our offense will ever find a sustained rhtyhm this year, but if they continue to be inconsistent, particularly on the road, we need to take care of what chances we have. Especially when we face teams like Indy, Dallas, and San Diego who can put up points in a hurry. A nice time to start  executing inside the opponents' 20 would be this Sunday against Jacksonville .

4) Continue Protecting The Ball

I mentioned in a recent post or comment thread that Ben Roethlisberger has done a remarkable job protecting the football for how much pressure he's faced the last two-three weeks. That INT against Baltimore was bogus. Just slipped out of his hand, not a product of a bad decision. For all the pressure he's faced, Ben's only offered up two INTs. The one I mentioned, plus another long meaningless heave in the Eagles game I believe. He has, however, had some issues fumbling. He's coughed it up 5 times, losing four of them. Other than Ben though, our backs and WRs have done a good job protecting the football. It's one of the main reasons we're 3-1.

5) Involve Heath Miller

Last year against Jacksonville, Miller had a TD in the first contest, then a monster game in the playoff matchup catching 8 balls for 85 yards and a TD. I think Miller gives the Jags some matchup problems, and with some of the protection issues hopefully resolved, at least some, since the Philly game, perhaps it's time to start letting Miller run free. I don't see why 5-8 yard stopping patterns aren't a good idea. You don't need a big window to get him the ball, he doesn't bobble passes in traffic, risking interceptions. Let's get Heath involved!

There are of course many other issues worthy of addressing, particulary on offense. Feel free to add them in the comments section, as well as any other matchups/aspects of the game that you find interesting and pivotal.