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This Time, Jaguars Look Like Expansion Team

October 30, 1995|From Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — They don't resemble the players they were only 10 days ago, and maybe that's why they finally look like the Pittsburgh Steelers of 1994.

Neil O'Donnell doubled his season total with two touchdown passes Sunday and the Steelers, making massive personnel changes on both sides of the ball, dominated the Jacksonville Jaguars, 24-7.

The Steelers (4-4) responded to an 18-point loss to Cincinnati and some injuries by switching starters at nine of 22 positions. The new look obviously helped an offense that was without a touchdown on its previous 10 trips inside the opposing 20-yard line.

From the way they stood by helplessly as Pittsburgh bolted to a 21-0 first-half lead, the Jaguars (3-6) didn't recognize the team they beat, 20-16, three weeks ago.

The Jaguars could have set an NFL record for victories by an expansion team, but didn't put up much of a fight. They had only four first downs in the first half and didn't cross midfield until late in the third quarter.

"The changes in personnel and positions worked out great," said Pro Bowl safety Carnell Lake, who moved to cornerback after the Bengals threw three touchdown passes in beating Pittsburgh, 27-9, on Oct. 19. "For the most part, the defense feels comfortable and it worked out fine. It was definitely a must-win game."

Especially for a team that was three yards short of the Super Bowl last season, but was in danger of playing itself out of the AFC Central race at midseason.

"I'm not jubilant, but it's a start, and we have to look at it as just that--a start," tackle Leon Searcy said.

This time, the Steelers had an uncharacteristically good start. O'Donnell, with only one touchdown pass in his three starts, threw scoring passes to Yancey Thigpen for 15 yards and John L. Williams for six. Erric Pegram also had a six-yard touchdown run as the Steelers scored on their first three drives inside the Jaguars' 20.

The Steelers had been the AFC's second-worst team inside the 20, converting only 32% of their scoring opportunities.

"We heard the talk, 'Oh, can the Steelers score touchdowns?' It made us mad, and it made me mad," said Pegram, who had 84 yards in 19 carries. "Once we got inside the 20, field goals weren't even on our mind. We were concerned only with scoring touchdowns."

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