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do too much there,” Tepper said o
The Jacksonville Jaguars heard the chatter Randall Cobb Jersey , read the tweets and Instagram posts. And they got a little confused.

Why were the Pittsburgh Steelers talking about the New England Patriots? Didn’t they have to face the Jaguars first before reaching a rematch with the Super Bowl champions?

”I don’t know if they misread the schedule or didn’t play us this week, but they didn’t acknowledge us at all,” Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack said. ”And we didn’t take that too kindly.”

Not at all. That shouldn’t be a problem going forward.

The Jaguars, yes the Jaguars, have the NFL’s full attention now. A trip to Foxborough on the horizon, too.

Dominant at the start and resilient at the finish, Jacksonville stunned the Steelers 45-42 on Sunday to advance to the AFC title game for the third time in franchise history and maybe, finally, earn a bit of respect.

Leonard Fournette ran for 109 yards and three scores . Embattled quarterback Blake Bortles added 214 yards passing and a pivotal fourth-quarter touchdown as the third-seeded Jaguars (12-6) beat the second-seeded Steelers (13-4) at Heinz Field for the second time in three months.

The victory in October served notice Jacksonville was ready to put a decade of losing firmly behind. This one sent an even bigger message: overlook the Jaguars at your own peril, something Pittsburgh appeared to do in the run-up. Coach Mike Tomlin hinted at facing the Patriots twice back in December. Running back Le’Veon Bell posted on Twitter about the pair of “round 2s” the Steelers will face in coming weeks.

Turns out, one rematch is all the Steelers will get.

”We knew we had this team’s number,” Jacksonville safety Barry Church said. ”All we did was feed on the fuel that everybody was providing, the media Jarius Wright Jersey , everybody was talking about how they’re going to run through us, it’s not going to be like last (time). Blake Bortles this. Blake Bortles that. all he did was dominate their defense.”

A week removed from an ugly performance in a wild-card round win over Buffalo in which he passed for 87 yards and struggled with the easiest of throws, Bortles went 14 of 26 for a touchdown without an interception. He ran for 35 more and wasn’t sacked by a defense that led the NFL and set a franchise record with 55 during the season. Jacksonville’s 45 points tied the most ever allowed by the Steelers in the playoffs.

Not bad for an offense that at times simply appeared along for the ride as the NFL’s top defense carried the load.

”Blake Bortles has always been criticized,” Fournette said. ”It is different now. He has guys that have his back, especially me.”

Certainly looked it as Fournette scored two first-quarter touchdowns. The Jaguars built a 21-point lead and responded whenever the Steelers rallied to get within one score.

”The guys played with confidence all day long,” Bortles said. ”Obviously, what they have on their side of the ball, it’s a good team. We know they got a good offense. We knew we were going to have to be efficient, hold on to the ball for a little bit, so we did it.”

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 469 yards and set a franchise record with five touchdown passes, but was also intercepted once and had a fumble returned for a score. All-Pro Antonio Brown caught seven passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in his return from a left calf injury. Bell had 155 yards of total offense and two scores.

But Pittsburgh’s vaunted ”Killer Bs” couldn’t keep pace with Jacksonville, one of four NFL franchises to never make the Super Bowl.

”It’s disheartening,” Brown said. ”I thought we had the right group of guys.”

The Jaguars dominated the Steelers on Oct. 8 Kyle Van Noy Jersey , winning by three touchdowns in a performance so overwhelming Roethlisberger only half-jokingly wondered aloud whether he still had ”it’ after throwing a career-high five picks.

Roethlisberger and his teammates left little doubt they hoped for a rematch, though Jacksonville cornerback A.J. Bouye cautioned Pittsburgh to be careful what it wished for. The Jaguars hardly appeared intimidated by the 18-degree chill or trying to earn their first road playoff win in a decade.

”I’m sure there will still be tons of people that are going to disapprove and talk negative or hate or do whatever they want,” Bortles said. ”But we get to keep playing and we get an opportunity to play in Foxborough next week for another week. Just honored to be able to do this especially with this group of guys.”

”It’s been an awesome year. Just want to keep it going.”

FOURTH AND WOE

Pittsburgh rolled up 545 yards of offense, but it’s 2 yards the Steelers didn’t get that helped send them into an offseason filled with questions.

Twice Pittsburgh had fourth-and-1 in Jacksonville territory. Twice the Steelers did something other than have the 6-foot-5 Roethlisberger sneak. Pittsburgh ran wide in the first quarter and Bell was stuffed for a 4-yard loss. The Jaguars responded immediately by going 75 yards in 11 plays, the final one a 4-yard sprint by T.J. Yeldon that put them up 21-0.

The Steelers were down a touchdown early in the fourth quarter and had fourth-and-inches at the Jacksonville 39. Roethlisberger checked at the line of scrimmage, faked a handoff to Bell and instead threw incomplete to diving rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster .

”It’s been a while since I’ve run a quarterback sneak, I’m for it,” said Roethlisberger, who added he wi While new Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper would like the focus to be on his plans for the team’s future, he cannot completely put the franchise’s sullied past behind him.

Tepper has to keep the prominent statue of Panthers’ founder Jerry Richardson outside of the stadium as part of the NFL-record $2.2 billion deal he agreed to in June after Richardson decided to sell the team in December amid reports of sexual and racial misconduct in the workplace.

Tepper said Tuesday when he was introduced as the team’s new owner that he’s ”contractually obligated” to keep the 13-foot high statue of Richardson standing alongside two growling panthers where it is.

The league substantiated the allegations against Richardson following a six-month investigation and fined him $2.75 million.

Fans have expressed their desire on social media and sports talk shows to remove the statue, which was built in 2016.

And while Tepper said contractually he can’t do that, he spoke repeatedly about changing the environment of the Panthers workplace.

Tepper said there will be ”no impediment” in employees feeling comfortable coming forward if they if they have any problems on the business side of the organization.

He wants to create an environment where ”everybody feels safe like a family.”

Sports Illustrated reported in December, citing unnamed sources Linval Joseph Jersey , that Richardson made sexually suggestive comments to women and on at least one occasion directed a racial slur at an African-American Panthers scout. The report states that he reached settlements that included non-disclosure requirements forbidding the parties from discussing the details.

”Listen, whatever was, was. This is now,” Tepper said. ”This is going to be an open place. So there are not going to be non-disclosure agreements, no matter what, in this new place. That was then, this is now.”

The Panthers are only tied to Charlotte through June 2019 in terms of a stadium agreement, but Tepper reiterated the city is ”the most logical place” to keep the team, although adding that a ”redo” is necessary.

The Panthers and the city of Charlotte came to an agreement on improvements for the team’s stadium in 2013, calling for the city to contribute about $87 million for renovations to Bank of America Stadium in exchange for a six-year hard tether to keep the NFL franchise in Charlotte.

Tepper’s focus right now is on new practice facilities.

He said the Panthers are ”falling behind a little bit” other teams in the league.

He is considering moving the team’s practice facilities to South Carolina, in part to keep both states interested in the team. The Panthers currently practice on three fields within walking distance to their downtown stadium. Tepper said that valuable land could be used for developmental purposes.

Tepper, who grew up playing football, also said he wants more events at the team’s stadium Terrell Owens Jersey , including high school state championship football games and the ”right kind of concerts.”

He is excited about the football side of the team, praising two-time AP Coach of the Year Ron Rivera and his hiring of new offensive coordinator Norv Turner to replace Mike Shula.

”I’m not looking to do too much there,” Tepper said of the coaching side.

However, Tepper plans to hire a new team president to replace Danny Morrison, who left last year, and former COO Tina Becker, who resigned on Monday after seven months in the position. He said he has two replacement candidates in mind, both with some marketing background.

He also likes the makeup of the team’s roster with training camp right around the corner, citing how involved players are in the community and charity work.

He cited Spider-Man, saying that ”with great power comes great responsibility.”



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