Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew visited the NFL Network set on Thursday to talk about the AFC Championship Game. Jones-Drew, who played against both teams this season, took some time in the green room to hit the hot topics.
On the Pittsburgh playoff experience: The Ravens might want to keep on their helmets.
“It was fun as the whole city shuts down. The environment was great. It was loud. The stadium was shaking. They were waving Terrible Towels. They were throwing stuff at you. I thought it was fun, but I didn’t try to make it bigger than what it was.”
Wait, throwing stuff, like snowballs?
“Dirt, batteries and stuff. I guess they want to be tough. But I’m from the Bay Area. There’s nothing worse than Oakland Raiders fans. Nothing was too bad. Until they start throwing full cans of beer at you, it doesn’t bother me. I thought it was a great experience.”
These defenses are similar in how they attack the ball.
“They are basically the same defense but with different uniforms. Baltimore is more exotic with their blitzing, moving around and giving you different looks. But all that moving around means that they get out of their gaps and you can run against them. Pittsburgh is more, ‘We are going to line up like this and we are going to stop you.’ They use the same blitzes that they’ve always used for as long as Dick LeBeau has been there, and it’s up to you to beat them. I’d love to play both of them again. We owe both of them.”
Don’t abandon the run.
“You just can’t expect to break big runs against these defenses. You have to stay consistent with the running game. You have to believe that you can run the ball against them. It’s not like some teams, where you can break a 10-yard run against them early. You have to work at it. That’s what we did earlier against Baltimore. But if I’m making the game plan, I’m running against either team, using play action and screens so they don’t get a jump.”
Joe Flacco is no rookie.
“Flacco has been playing well. He hasn’t turned the ball over in the playoffs. He understands that if you don’t turn the ball over — with that defense — you have a chance of winning. They have to stay patient with the run and protect Flacco. When they throw the ball, you have to complete them. It’s really simple, but it’s hard to do.”
Don’t expect the Ravens to hit the Pittsburgh night life after playing 17 games without a bye.
“That’s a big deal. I remember we had 10 games to play, and that was rough. I’m surprised they are still able to keep it going. They aren’t the oldest team in the league, but they have some guys up there in age. Guys are still flying around to the ball. Hopefully, they aren’t working too hard so they can bring their legs back. They are going to have to dig deep.
“You have to take it one game at a time and do whatever it takes. If that means not going out this week, then there’s no going out. The most important things this week are your family and the game, and that’s about it. They have so much leadership, they are able to set rules about going out, and the young guys do it. I can guarantee you that they aren’t out partying.”
Beating the same team three times in a season is hard.
“It’s hard to beat a team twice. That’s the hardest thing in the world to do. When you beat them once, you are motivated to beat them again. If the Steelers can beat them for a third time, then they deserve to go to the Super Bowl.”