Redemption is a word going around the Pittsburgh Steelers locker room and the fan parking lot this week. As the second week of the NFL playoffs comes up, one of the biggest questions is, was it a fluke in week five or can the Jacksonville Jaguars keep up with the more experienced Steelers. Here are the biggest talking points going into the game.
Pittsburgh Steelers Seek Redemption Against Jacksonville
Can They Put it Behind Them?
Even though they may want it, focusing on redemption could mean you haven’t put the loss behind you. It was ugly by any standards of a Super Bowl-winning team. Future HOF quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had the worst game of his career. He was more disappointed in himself seemingly than any fan was. Up to and including making the comment, “Maybe I don’t have it anymore.”
Thankfully, he seems to have shaken that mentality off and the Steelers have had a wonderful season to end as the number two seed. Now is the time to focus on the game plan that works.
Having Almost All Of The Weapons on the Field
In recent years when the Steelers made the playoffs, they had to contend with many of their key players injured. Stars were either playing hurt or not able to play at all. This year, with the notable exception of Ryan Shazier, all the main pieces are on the board. Antonio Brown will be playing after missing the last two games with a calf tear. This is the time to show that a full team can punch the ticket.
Ignoring the Talk
Every team will have the stories about players. Are they mad? Who might be retiring? Are they playing up to par? Again this is something they can not let get into their heads. There is more talk about will this be Roethlisberger’s last season. Will Le’Veon Bell comeback next year after the contract dispute from last year? Of course, these are important issues, but not now. Now is the playoffs, eat, sleep and breathe the playoffs. Eight teams are playing this week, four next week and then there will be two. That is the goal.
Home Field, Yay or Nay
You always want to play in front of the home crowd. The Pittsburgh fans have consistently been voted as one of the most vocal and loyal fanbases in the league. The Steeler Nation makes a difference supporting their team even in away games. But week five, the home fans were shocked by a 30-9 loss in Heinz Field. However, the Steelers love their fans as much as the fans love them. They want to give the fans this win to make up for week five.
As much as the team want redemption, they also want their seventh ring for a number of emotional reasons. Just before the season started, the longtime owner of the team, Dan Rooney passed away. He was a special man who made sure he was a part of the team and not just a corporate owner, he made it a point to take with his players and be there for them. The team wants this ring for him.
They also want to keep the fight alive and keep pushing for Ryan Shazier. His injury was one of the scariest of the season. Losing feeling and movement in his legs almost instantly. While he is healing and making progress, there is a strong possibility he won’t make it back to the playing field. If they can use this power of this emotion without letting it control them, it can be the extra drive to push them through all the games to their final goal.
On to the divisional championships.
PITTSBURGH, PA – JANUARY 08: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field on January 8, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)