Tomlin: ‘Ridiculous level of respect’ for 1-8 Jags


PITTSBURGH — On the heels of another win against an AFC North opponent, the undefeated Steelers will head to Jacksonville to take on a one-win Jaguars team this weekend.

Coming just four days before a Thanksgiving rematch with the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday’s meeting has all the makings of a trap game, but coach Mike Tomlin isn’t buying in to that narrative.

“We are not a Big Ten team playing a MAC opponent this week,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “Every time we step into a stadium, we’re playing professionals, players and coaches. We’ve got a ridiculous level of respect for that. Write your story, follow your storylines about trap games and things of that nature. We understand what we’re going into in Jacksonville, that that’s a group that’s trying to kick our butt. A professional group, capable group, and we’re preparing with that understanding.”

Part of that preparation will be getting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back at practice after he missed last week while he self-isolated as a part of the COVID-19 protocols.

Roethlisberger joked after throwing for 333 yards and four touchdowns against the Cincinnati Bengals that he might talk with Tomlin about taking another week off practice.

But no such luck.

“We did have that conversation,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “I’ll acknowledge it was a very brief one, and I will see him at practice on Thursday.”

While the Steelers were taking care of business against the Bengals last week, the Jaguars were on the verge of upsetting the Green Bay Packers in Wisconsin, thanks in large part to the defense forcing two turnovers and another fumble.

“A significant component of their last matchup in Green Bay was their ability to get the ball,” Tomlin said. “We all know Green Bay’s ability to possess the ball. Green Bay, I think, is No. 1 in the NFL in safeguarding the football. They had some significant turnovers in that game, and that turnover element of play is something we need to be cognizant of as we head down to Jacksonville.

“We’ve always had rough and tumble games with those guys down there. They always play really tough defense.”

Tomlin also praised Jaguars rookie running back James Robinson, who rushed for 109 yards against the Packers for his third 100-yard game this season.

Robinson and the Jaguars’ defense give Tomlin plenty of reasons not to overlook Sunday’s game.

“I cannot say enough about [Robinson] and the respect I have for what he’s done,” Tomlin said. “I read something this morning where he’s run for more yards than any undrafted rookie in the history of our game to this point in his rookie season. That says it all.

“Beyond that, his style of play is impressive. He’s a deliberate, one-cut guy, he’s down the field, he’s quick to holes. He’s got good vision. He finishes off runs extremely well with great pad level. Just stories like James Robinson, those of us who are football people, we have a lot of appreciation for that. … We acknowledge it as a big-time challenge this week.”

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