The first time Ben Roethlisberger faced the Jacksonville Jaguars this season, it didn’t go so well. He threw five interceptions, including a pair of pick-sixes, in a 30-9 loss at Heinz Field in Week 5.
When asked who he would like to play in the divisional round, though, Big Ben said Jacksonville. “I’d love to prove that five interceptions wasn’t me in that game,” he said.
Jags corner A.J. Bouye’s response? “Be careful what you wish for. This is what he wanted, so this is what he is going to get.”
The Jags and Steelers meet this Sunday in Pittsburgh at 1:05 p.m. ET.
What do make of Big Ben’s desire to face a defense that dominated him in the regular season?
“Well, I think just being a competitor – and Ben, he’s been in this thing for a long time and been playing at a very high level for a long time – so he’s confident in his abilities and his squad,” Jaguars tight end Mercedes Lewis said on Reiter Than You. “But so are we. We definitely are looking forward to going out there and strapping it up and doing what we have to do to try to win a game. If he thought the other way, it wouldn’t be right. He has to feel that way. We’re very confident in what we bring to the table and just putting our best product out there Sunday.”
Roethlisberger led the Steelers to victory in 10 of their final 11 games, while Blake Bortles helped the Jags to their first playoff appearance since 2007. Still, Bortles has been up and down this year and threw for just 87 yards in Jacksonville’s 10-3 Wild Card win over Buffalo.
Critics say that the Jaguars can’t get to the Super Bowl with Bortles at QB. Lewis, though, doesn’t care about the naysayers.
“The critics will be the critics,” he said. “They have a job, too, and they need stories to write papers and do what they have to do. That’s not our focus. We’re focused on getting better every day and playing our personal best so we can go out there and try to win a game. Blake is one of our leaders. He’s a guy that wants to be really good and very coachable. He understands what his weakness are, and he wants to be better every day. So just from that standpoint alone, we stand behind him. We understand what’s ahead of us. It’s all about winning this game and doing what you have to do to win this game. It’s not always going to be pretty.”
Lewis, 33, has taken Bortles, 25, aside a few times this season and delivered the same message.
“I let him know that this game is a tough game, and if you’re blessed enough to play in this league for a long time, you’re going to have plenty more bad games,” Lewis said. “It’s okay. You got to believe in your process. He understands that. He also understands that we’re going to go as far as he’ll take us. He’s been doing a really good job for us. You just have to keep rolling. You roll with the punches and keep going.”