Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NOTEBOOK; Mathis Does It Again to Big Ben

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NOTEBOOK; Mathis Does It Again to Big Ben

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL C. WRIGHT

Perhaps some new ailment called post-interception stress syndrome sets in when Ben Roethlisberger sees Rashean Mathis.

Because every time two meet up, it seems that Mathis is picking off a Roethlisberger pass and running it back for big yardage. Such was the case Sunday in the Jaguars' game against the Steelers at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.

Catching an overthrown pass intended for Santonio Holmes in the opening quarter, Mathis picked off Roethlisberger for the third time in Jacksonville's past two meetings against Pittsburgh and returned the interception 72 yards for a touchdown.

"We were in man-to-man," Mathis said. "I used good technique, broke on the ball and was able to make a play to help my team."

That play gave the Jaguars a 7-0 lead after Josh Scobee's extra point. It also marked the second consecutive game in which Mathis returned a Roethlisberger interception for a touchdown. In the AFC wild-card playoff game last season, Mathis picked off Roethlisberger twice, returning one for a 63-yard TD.

In all, Mathis has returned three interceptions for touchdowns against the Steelers. In 2005, he had a game-winning 41-yard interception return on a pass from Tommy Maddox in overtime.

Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio thought the interception Sunday partially bailed out the defense during a shaky first half.

"That was a big play that kind of bought us some time to kind of fight through what was not a good first half defensively," Del Rio said.

STRUGGLES COVERING TIGHT END

Heading into Sunday night's game, the Jaguars had allowed 20 completions to opponents' tight ends for 260 yards and a touchdown. The Jaguars continued the trend against Pittsburgh on Sunday by allowing Steelers tight end Heath Miller to haul in five passes for 45 yards and a TD.

LOPSIDED FIRST HALF

There wasn't a single statistic the Steelers didn't dominate in the first half. …

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