The Steelers seemed awfully focused on the Patriots and the AFC Championship when they should have been mentally preparing to face the Jaguars in divisional play. Guard David DeCastro did not approve.
“(The Jaguars) were ready to go; they were mad; they were angry; they had something to prove, and they did it,’’ DeCastro said, via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Yeah, it’s embarrassing. It really is, man. It just blows my mind. They beat us 30-9 (in Week 5). We played like crap, and we want to talk about New England?”
The postseason ended in heartbreak for the Steelers last year. They pulled off a divisional win in Arrowhead Stadium against the Chiefs despite the fact that only kicker Chris Boswell managed to put any points on the board. Then they went into Gillette Stadium and got their asses handed to them with a 36-17 loss to New England.
Steelers safety Mike Mitchell told Greg Bishop of Sports Illustrated this year was going to be different.
“We’re going to play (the Patriots) again,” Mitchell said. “We can play them in hell, we can play them in Haiti, we can play them in New England. ... We’re gonna win.”
Mitchell had some things to say to the Jaguars before the game. That didn’t do him any favors.
Steelers S Mike Mitchell stood outside Jags locker room before game talking smack: "Ya'll gonna know my name," Jags players reported he said.— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) January 14, 2018
Jaguars players didn’t take any of it well. Malik Jackson walked the hall to the Heinz Field visitors’ locker room after Jacksonville’s 45-42 win yelling that he wanted to see Mitchell “right now.”
The team had quite a response for Mitchell on Twitter.
But Mitchell wasn’t the only one who assumed a win against the Jaguars was inevitable.
Head coach Mike Tomlin told Tony Dungy on Football Night in America in November that he expected to see the Patriots twice: the regular season matchup in Week 15, and the playoffs.
“But probably if we’re both doing what we’re supposed to do, the second one is really going to be big and what happens in the first is going to set up the second one,” Tomlin said. “It’s going to determine the location of the second one.”
The Steelers lost to the Patriots at home, 27-24, in Week 15.
Le’Veon Bell got in on the action, too, presuming that the Steelers would breeze through the rematch with the Jags to see the Patriots again in New England for the conference championship.
I love round 2’s...we’ll have two round 2’s in back to back weeks...— Le'Veon Bell (@L_Bell26) January 14, 2018
DeCastro said, on top of the problem of assuming the Jaguars were an easy target, there’s no reason to add fuel to New England’s fire.
“It’s just stupid. It’s just not what you do,” DeCastro said. “You don’t need to give a team like that more bulletin board material.”
Tomlin perhaps should have learned this lesson last year after a regrettable comment he made in the locker room after the divisional win over the Chiefs was streamed on Facebook Live by Antonio Brown.
Tomlin said after the divisional win over the Chiefs that the Steelers had “spotted those assholes a day and a half.” That didn’t work out well for the Steelers at all.
The Steelers wanted revenge after last season. We get it. But they would have had a better shot if they hadn’t looked past the Jaguars.