2017 South Side Questions: Game Edition – Biggest Key To Victory?

The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments for as long as they push on through the postseason, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.

Question: Game Edition – what is the single biggest key to victory for the Steelers to advance to the AFC Championship game next week?

It took the Steelers six years to return to the AFC Championship game from when they were last there, for the fifth time during the span of Ben Roethlisberger’s career. He can make it six appearances in the conference finale with a win today over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In order to do so, they will have the beat a team that embarrassed them during the regular season. The Jaguars spent a good part of that day harassing Roethlisberger in the backfield and providing tight coverage on his targets, registering a number of passes defensed and, of course, intercepting five of his passes.

Offensively, they controlled much of the game with Leonard Fournette on the ground, who did not truly break out until the end when he ripped off a 90-yard touchdown run. But prior to that, he was doing just enough at the right times to drive the Jaguars’ offense.

In my opinion, the biggest thing that needs to change from the last game to this one is the pass protection. While Roethlisberger was only sacked twice in the game, he was routinely thrown off his spot and his rhythm, particularly by Calais Campbell, and that contributed to a number of his turnovers in addition to wiping a touchdown off the board due to a holding call Campbell drew.

Facilitating a balanced offense with Le’Veon Bell on the ground could also be key, and is something they were not doing even in the early goings of the first game while the score remained close. Ball security may or may not be something to monitor as well, to employ some understatement.

Containing the ground game, including Blake Bortles at quarterback, will be a tough and crucial assignment, and is something that they have been talking about for the past week.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Steelers32

    For this and all games to follow, Ben has 5 good targets and a line to give him some time to pick.
    DO NOT force the damn ball take what the defense gives and no team can match up to the Steelers.

  • Alan Tman

    #77 wasn’t there on the first go around. I’m sure the best RT in the game will make a difference. I think the thing that needs to change is the commitment to the running game. I’m talking to you Mr Marci. LOL

  • Darth Blount 47

    Simple. The biggest key to victory, as it is for EVERY team outside of Martha’s Vineyard, is to make the plays be so clear and obvious, that you take away the ability of the officials, to be able to instead determine the outcome.

    A good example? The Jesse James overturned TD. Instead of CATCHING the ball and the reaching out for the goal, you simply catch the ball at the 1 yd line, tuck it in, and fall to the ground, and attempt to roll…. “Stop, Drop, and Roll” – style, into the endzone before you are touched. If you make it, cool! If not, because you are touched down at the 6 inch line, so be it. We’ll let Bell pound it in. But in NO WAY should you do anything that could allow “New York Al” or anyone else, to determine the outcome.

    Now, that above plan seems sound. But I saw some things last night that make me truly question whether even this line of thinking and execution, is even ever possible anymore.

    This league has “Jumped The Shark,” I fear.

  • francesco

    1. STOP THE RUN!!!
    2. TACKLE WITH YOUR ARMS AND NOT WITH THE SHOULDERS!!!
    3. NO TURNOVERS ON OFFENSE

  • Michael Mosgrove

    best right tackle in the game? isnt it a bit early to be drinking?

  • Michael Mosgrove

    run defense.

  • Jaybird

    Stop the Jags running game and of course don’t turn the ball over. That’s the easy stuff to pick as keys to victory. But I think composure will play a huge part in who wins this game. The Jags are are very young and VERY brash. I think they will make a few stupid penalties that will cost them big time. I think they will will get behind a little and that trash talking secondary of theirs will make a few dumb penalties that keep Steeler drives alive or lead to points. The Steelers will be the more relaxed and composed team today.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    My biggest key is Blake Bortles. I will keep going back to it until this game is over but we can’t let him look like Tom Brady in this game. We have to key in on stopping Fournette and putting the game on Bortles but then we have to succeed at not letting him beat us.

    Against the Jags defense it isn’t going to be easy to put up points so we can’t get stuck where we are suprised by 2 40-50 yard passes from Bortles, especially if they are TD passes.

  • BurghBoy412

    Its my opinion that today’s game won’t require some “special” performance in order for the Steelers to win. They need to go out there and play within themselves. Nobody needs to be “special” in order to beat this Jacksonville team. On Offense they simply need to execute and take what is given to them. Obviously they cannot turn the ball over and they must score td’s and not settle for three. On Defense, again nobody needs to be “special” today. I think a huge key is avoiding the “Ego Game”. They don’t need to lay big nasty hits and try to intimidate this Jaguars team. JUST MAKE THE TACKLE! If they can do that and maintain quality communication this game in my opinion will not be close at the end.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    The key to the game is offensive line play. Can our offensive line open up holes and keep Ben from getting harassed by Campbell and company? Its the same for Jacksonville. Can their O-line control the point of attack and prevent Blake Bortles from having to shoulder too much of the load.

  • BurghBoy412

    Win in the trenches!

  • BurghBoy412

    The most important part of winning football

  • BurghBoy412

    They called a False Start then changed the call to Neutral Zone Infraction. Gave the Patriots a first down on fourth down and put Brady back on the field. Now I’ve watched quite a bit of football in my life. However, I can tell by your knowledge of the game and your writing that you’ve “been around the block”, quite a few times more than I. So,I’ll ask you Mr. Darth. Have you ever seen anything like that in all your years of observing this great game?

  • cencalsteeler

    Jump out to a quick start. Muddle huddle and get some quick points (no, not Boz points) and deflate this Jaguar D.

  • Darth Blount 47

    In a playoff game, where one official had already communicated it to the Head, that person then announced the penalty, the team in question goes to line back up, 5 yards further back, and THEN the call gets changed and the line crew moves from 5 yards back, to the original, then 5 yards forward, WITHOUT a measurement to see for sure if the penalty would equate an automatic 1st down?

    No. Off the top of my head, no, can’t say as I can ever recall that series of events like that. It was a crucial call in my opinion. The Pats were backed way up in their own territory, and Tennessee was only down 7 points.

  • BurghBoy412

    It definitely felt like the game changed after that call. I’m still in disbelief.

  • Alan Tman

    It’s funny you know everything, but you are no where to be found on Friday night 5. Lol