Roethlisberger threw a career-high five interceptions -- two that were returned for touchdowns -- and was sacked twice in a 30-9 loss on Oct. 8. It’s no wonder he has nothing but high praise for the unit as the teams prepare to face off in the AFC divisional round of the playoffs Sunday at Heinz Field.
“This is one of the best defenses I’ve ever played against,” Roethlisberger said.
The Jaguars' defense was ranked top-2 in almost every category in the regular season, including scoring, total yards, passing yards, sacks, fumbles forced and interceptions. The Jaguars had 55 sacks this season, behind only the league-leading Steelers (56). The two teams had more sacks than any franchise since 2013.
Roethlisberger admitted before the playoffs that he would like to see a postseason rematch between the two teams, and the Jaguars' defense appeared to be encouraging that as well.
“Be careful what you wish for,” Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye told reporters in response to Roethlisberger’s comments. “This is what he wanted, so this is what he is going to get.”
Roethlisberger didn’t pinpoint why exactly he thought the Jaguars' defense was so good, other than to call it “extremely talented.”
The Jaguars excel at takeaways; their 34 ranked only behind the Baltimore Ravens.
“There’s not one thing, pass rush, linebackers, secondary,” Roethlisberger said. “Their stats, when you look at what they’ve put on paper, put on tape this year, I think that speaks for itself.”
He added: “Preparing for these guys is never easy, they’re the best defense in the league for a reason.”