JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Sure, the Jacksonville Jaguars have salary-cap issues and depth problems. They also have Jimmy Smith, Hardy Nickerson and a handful of stars out to prove they're better than everyone thinks.
Smith caught two of Mark Brunell's three touchdown passes, while Nickerson had an interception and forced a fumble Sunday to lead the Jaguars to an unexpectedly easy, 21-3, victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"I don't think we have to prove anything to anybody," Brunell said. "To hear we don't have any talent, or that we're not what we used to be, that's ridiculous."
Brunell threw for a modest 198 yards, but still outplayed Steeler quarterback Kordell Stewart, who was forced to play catch-up in a driving rainstorm after Pittsburgh fell behind by 18 at halftime. Stewart finished 21 of 37 for 181 yards with two interceptions.
Smashed by two Steeler linemen, Brunell didn't see his first touchdown pass of the season, a 34-yarder to Smith. Smith came through again for a 15-yard touchdown, and finished with eight catches for 126 yards.
The 36-year-old Nickerson also looked good-as-new, back after missing most of last season with a knee injury. "It was kind of special, the first game back," Nickerson said. "It was my first real game since last October. I was eager to get back out there and see how things felt. I was happy with the way we played today."